High drama in the Bernabeu stadium on Sunday evening, a last minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo giving Real Madrid a 3-2 victory over Osasuna. Nobody expected the visitors to give them too many problems, but with only five minutes on the clock Aranda took advantage of a bad back pass by Albiol to run on round Casillas and open the scoring. Midway through the first half Cristiano Ronaldo equalised after running past a couple of defenders to drive a low shot past Ricardo, but with four minutes to go to the break Vadócz restored the lead with a fierce volley after Aranda lifted the ball over the defence. Before half time Madrid were level again though, Marcelo getting between two defenders to head Granero's cross past Ricardo. After the break the visiting keeper had to save from Ronaldo and Kaká, but Osasuna should have gone in front again when Masoud slipped with the goal at his mercy. With the game coming to an end however Higuaín played the ball across for Ronaldo to head home the winner, keeping Pellegrini's side just a point behind leaders Barcelona
Earlier in the evening Sevilla beat Atlético Madrid 3-1 in a preview of this season's Spanish cup final. After a gruelling Europa League semi-final at Anfield, Quique Sánchez Flores made several changes to his line up, and they found themselves behind in only the fifth minute when Luis Fabiano turned the ball past De Gea following a corner. Tiago levelled the scores only a couple of minutes later, but the Andalusians were ahead again soon afterwards when Negredo drilled home a penalty kick after Valera tripped Adriano inside the box. And six minutes before half time it was virtually all over when Negredo converted a second penalty after Perea pushed over Luis Fabiano, the striker limping off with an injury which could keep him out for a couple of weeks or so. Reyes hit the post after that and Agüero had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside later on, and Fazio headed against the bar at the other end. But in the end both sides settled for a result which actually favours Atlético, who will automatically qualify for next season's Europa League as cup finalists whatever the result if Sevilla finish in the fourth Champions League spot.
Sevilla are not going to have it all their own way though, and they stay in fifth spot, still two points behind Mallorca after the Balearic Islanders beat Athletic Bilbao 1-3 in the last match of the weekend. Gregorio Manzano's side had only won twice away from home this season, but they went in front a couple of minutes before the interval when Chori Castro headed past Iraizoz after Rubén headed on a corner. Llorente equalised before the half time whistle with another header from Iturraspe's cross, but four minutes after the restart Nunes put the visitors back ahead with a near post volley following a corner. And just a minute later ex Athletic striker Aduríz made sure of the three points after combining with Julio Alvarez in a quick passing move. Next up Real Madrid! (02.05.10)
Any doubts about Barcelona's capacity to recover from their Champions League defeat were dissipated when they beat Villarreal 1-4 on Saturday evening. Things may have been different had Nilmar converted a couple of easy chances early on, but in the twentieth minute Bojan and Xavi combined to set up Messi to score. A quarter of an hour later Xavi made it two with a well struck free kick, and before the half-time whistle Bojan added a third after leaving Gonzalo for dead before beating Diego López. Garrido made two changes at the break, and midway through the second half Llorente latched on to Nilmar's through ball to pull one back. But with the game coming to an end a quick passing move ended with Messi notching up his second of the night to take his side four points clear of Real Madrid pending their game tomorrow.
Valencia are moving ever closer to tying up third spot, and they are now nine points clear of fourth place after a 0-2 victory at Espanyol. The Catalans had not let in a goal at home since the mid-point of the season, and they had the better of the first half, with Moisés, Osvaldo and Luis García all failing to find the target. But Quique replaced a tired Villa with Zigic, and within minutes the big man had transformed the game. On the hour mark he opened the scoring after connecting with Vicente's cross, and soon afterwards he headed a rebound in to the net after Banega's shot came back off the woodwork, only to see the goal incorrectly ruled out for offside. And with twenty minutes to go Zigic got his second of the evening after Joaquín headed on Mata's cross to hand the locals their first home defeat since early December.
The first five games of the weekend all involved teams fighting to avoid relegation, and the bottom five clubs all picked up points to keep their hopes of salvation alive. Xerez stay at the foot of the table despite a last minute 2-1 win over Almería, and despite their recent recovery they are still favourites to go down. Armenteros headed in Calvo's free kick to open the scoring, but after Piatti had a goal disallowed for a dubious offside ruling, Soriano headed the equaliser from Bernadello's free kick. Things looked bad for the Andalusians when Keita was sent off shortly before the break, but numbers were evened up when Guilherme also picked up a second booking late on. And with the game in the last minute of injury time, Bermejo headed in David Prieto's crossfrom a possible offside position to save the day.
Tenerife are now on the brink of climbing out of the drop zone after a 2-1 win over Racing Santander, who themselves are now only a point above their opponents in the table. The Canary Islanders over-ran their visitors in the first half, with Nino and Juanlu bringing good saves out of Coltorti, and Juanlu hitting the post with a free kick. With the first half coming to a close Román headed Marc Bertrán's cross past the keeper to give his side the lead, and ten minutes after the restart Ayoze made it two from the penalty spot after Coltorti held back Alfaro after letting the ball slip from his grasp. Xisco got one back a few minutes later after Aragoneses couldn't hold on to Arana's soft cross, the referee turning down appeals for a foul. But the locals could have won by a bigger margin in the end, Oriol turning a cross against his own crossbar and Coltorti making a late save from Nino.
Tenerife are now level on points with Málaga, who just keep ahead of their rivals on goal difference after a late 1-1 draw against Sporting Gijón. The Andalusians started strongly, Benachour heading against the post and Barral clearing the follow up from Iván González off the line. Camacho hit the post at the other end though, and two minutes before the break the visitors took the lead following a corner when Gregory's header was deflected by Baha past his own keeper. After that it was all Málaga, but it was not until ten minutes from the end that they got the equaliser, Caicedo dragging the ball back in to the net with his heel after Duda played in another corner. That kept them three points behind the Asturians in the table, and Preciado's side are by no means safe right now.
Valladolid dropped two points behind Málaga and Tenerife though after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Getafe. The two sides traded shots throughout the first half, but neither keeper was particularly troubled. Jacobo did well though to close down Adrián González soon after the restart, and Codina kept out Manucho when he broke free in front of goal a couple of minutes later. The visitors were left with ten men when David Cortés picked up a second booking, but although Pelé hit the post and then had a good penalty appeal turned down, Javier Clemente's side were unable to get the goal they so desperately needed.
Zaragoza have also rejoined the relegation struggle in recent weeks, although they move two points away from the bottom three after a 0-1 victory at Deportivo. The Galicians were already mathematically safe despite nine games without a win, and after criticism from the fans Lotina decided to give a run out to some of his youngsters. And although they didn't create any clear cut chances, they were the better side in the first 45 minutes. Four minutes after the restart though Adrián Colunga ran on to a long ball from Pablo Amo to beat Aranzubia from a wide angle, and although Riki went close a couple of times and David Añon brought a last minute save out of Roberto, the visitors held on for three vital points. (01.05.10)