A seven goal thriller to round off the weekend, with Athletic Bilbao getting the edge over Racing Santander thanks to a 4-3 victory in the Monday night game. Llorente started things off early on with a header from Gabilondo's corner, and soon afterwards the striker battled through to set up Toquero for a second. Tchité pulled one back close to half time after a passing move with Colsa, but with a quarter of an hour to go Llorente restored the two goal cushion from the penalty spot after Christian brought him down. Substitute Iván Bolado got the visitors back in the game with a spectacular scissors kick, but Oriol was sent off for a second bookable offence a couple of minutes later, and Susaeta wrapped things up with a fourth goal before Bolado completed the scoring in injury time. Athletic move level with fifth placed Sevilla as a result of the victory, and the Cantabrians stay just six points above the bottom three. (29.03.10)
Only two weeks to go to the big "derby" game, and there is nothing to choose between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real Madrid have the slight edge over their rivals on goal difference however after coming from behind to beat Atlético Madrid in the last match on Sunday night. Atleti haven't won against their city neighbours in ten years, but they took the lead when Reyes curled a shot past Casillas in the tenth minute and held on until half time. Madrid turned the game around quickly after the restart though, Xabi Alonso finishing off after Albiol headed across a corner, and then provided a long pass himself for Arbeloa to turn past Domínguez and beat De Gea. Higuaín scored his side's third after Tiago failed to clear from Granero, but Diego Forlán got one back from the penalty spot after Alonso handled in the area, and there were some nervous moments before the referee blew the final whistle.
A change of coach at Sevilla didn't have the desired effect, the Andalusians being beaten 3-0 at Villarreal in Antonio Álvarez's first game in charge. Both managers put out attacking line ups, but it was the home side who took the lead in only the fourth minute, Rossi starting and finishing a quick break-away after turning Nilmar's cross past Palop. And a quarter of an hour later Juan Carlos Garrido's team went two up when Llorente headed another long cross down past the keeper. A few minutes in to the second half Luis Fabiano broke through only to be thwarted by Diego López, and with the game coming to an end Pires ran on to Rossi's through ball to put the result beyond doubt. It was an eighth game without a win for Sevilla, although they stay fifth pending Athletic's match against Racing on Monday.
Villarreal are now just two points off the European spots, and Getafe moved level with them after a 1-3 win at Deportivo. The Madrid based side had never won in the Riazor stadium, but they went ahead in the twentieth minute when Miku turned the ball past Manu after a good run down the left wing by Pedro León. Zé Castro headed a long ball from Celestini past his own keeper a few minutes later, and Miku got his second of the evening after Pedro León and Manu del Moral combined to set him up a few minutes in to the second half. Riki headed one back from Guardado's corner after that, but Michel's side held on to clock up their first away win since the start of the year, and to move within two points of the Galicians in the table.
Almería's late challenge for a first ever place in Europe took a set-back though after a 1-0 defeat against Osasuna. Local coach Camacho was able to count on his strike duo of Pandiani and Aranda again after both missed recent matches through injury, and in the twentieth minute Pandiani drifted free to head Juanfran's long cross in off the near post. But despite controlling the game after that they were unable to add to their tally thanks largely to Diego Alves, the visiting keeper making a string of fine saves, including one from a Nekounam penalty midway through the second half after Juanma Ortíz handled in the area. Juanma picked up a second booking for the offence, and the locals had little trouble after that tying up their first win in eight games.
Osasuna move to within two points of their opponents, who are now level with Sporting Gijón after the Asturians drew 0-0 at Espanyol. Even though they have scored less goals than anyone this season, the locals have not lost in their new Cornellà stadium since the beginning of December, and for the sixth time this season their game ended without goals. It was not for lack of trying though, Callejón going close twice early on and Juan Pablo making a brilliant reaction save from a Pareja header before the break. Osvaldo tried his luck several timesas well before he was replaced by Iván Alonso, who also failed to find the target. Kameni had little to do though in the local goal, and in the end both sides settled for a point.
The draw takes Espanyol eight points clear of the relegation zone however after Valladolid were beaten 3-0 by bottom club Xerez. The Andalusians are making a last desperate bid for survival under new coach Gorosito, and the win means they have picked up ten points in their last four games. Víctor Sánchez opened the scoring after Orellana set him up in only the second minute, and Michel headed the second from Momo's free kick before the break. With twenty minutes to go things got worse for Onesimo's team when Justo Villar was sent off for giving away a penalty on Mario Bermejo, and with all three changes made Medunjanin had to go in goal for Bermejo's spot kick. Valladolid ended the weekend five points away from safety, now only two points above their opponents in the table. (28.03.10)
Barcelona threw down the gauntlet once again to Real Madrid, a 0-1 victory at fourth placed Mallorca on Saturday evening taking them three points clear of their rivals pending their match on Sunday. The locals had won all but one of their home games this season, and they came close to taking the lead in the first half when Aduríz and then Valero fired shots against the post. Pedro had a strike ruled out at the other end for offside, and Aouate had to be at his best to keep out a couple of efforts from Ibrahimovic before the break. But Guardiola brought on Messi and Xavi early in the second half, and a few minutes later Ibrahimovic put the visitors ahead after Aouate pushed out Martí's deflection from Xavi's corner. Messi came close a couple of times after that, but his side had already done enough to take the three points and put the pressure back on Madrid.
The gap between the top two and the rest is already too big for them to be caught, and third placed Valencia dropped further behind the leaders after a 3-0 defeat against Zaragoza. Despite missing the injured Villa, the Chés dominated the early play, Roberto having to save from Mata, Zigic and Pablo. With four minutes to go to the break though César could only punch clear a long cross, and Diogo picked up the rebound and drilled home a long shot. Before the half time whistle the visitors were left with ten men after Zigic picked up a second booking for a rash tackle on Contini, and seconds after Joaquín missed an easy chance, Edmilson sent Arizmendi through for him to score the second. A few minutes later Jarosik poked home Gabi's corner for a third, and Zaragoza had a vital win which takes them four points clear of the drop zone.
Earlier in the evening Málaga and Tenerife shared the points in a 1-1 draw, a result which maintains the six point gap between the two teams. Both sides hit the woodwork before the goals were scored, Pablo Sicilia heading against the bar before the interval and Caicedo shooting against the post after the restart. Midway through the second half the locals took the lead when Apoño threw himself forward to head past Aragoneses after substitute Juanmi had headed on Gaspar's cross. But with five minutes to go Mtiglia was shown a straight red card for bringing down Nino inside the area, and Alfaro fired home the resulting penalty for a point which still leaves them four away from safety. (27.03.10)