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Match round-up - First Division, Day 23

Athletic Bilbao's run of four victories in a row came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca in the Monday night game. Chori Castro fired a first chance wide and Kevin cleared a Toquero header off the line before Webó got on the end of a good run by Nsue to poke a shot past Iraizoz. Later in the first half Aouate did well to keep out Toquero and Llorente, and Webó missed out on a second goal after Iraizoz could only push out a shot from Pereira. But Laudrup's side went in at the break ahead, and a well organised defence kept out San José and substitute Urko Vera after the restart to give the Islanders three points which takes them in to the fight for the third and final Europa League spot. Athletic are still seven points ahead of them in the table though, currently occupying fifth spot after Espanyol lost to Real Madrid on Sunday.(14.02.11)

Real Madrid moved to within five points of leaders Barcelona after a 0-1 victory at Espanyol on Sunday night. Mourinho's side were up against from the second minute when Casillas was sent off for bringing down Callejón outside of the area. Di María was the man sacrificed to bring on Adán, who was quickly in action to punch out a dangerous Luis García free kick. However the ten men went ahead midway through the first half when Marcelo picked up Cristiano Ronaldo's pass and ran through to beat Kameni from a wide angle, and Adebayor and Ronaldo could both have increased the lead before the half time whistle. An active Callejón fired a shot wide after the restart but otherwise Adán had little to do, and Kameni had to be at his best to save twice from Adebayor later on. A brave win for Madrid to keep them in the title hunt, but a third defeat in a row for the locals, who still however remain in sixth spot.

Another three of the day's matches also ended in single goal victories, with Villarreal slipping to fourth after a 1-0 defeat at Deportivo. Results earlier in the day meant that the Galicians started the game in the relegation spots, and coach Miguel Angel Lotina switched to a four man back row in order to try and change his team's fortunes. With Rossi suspended for the visitors though there were few chances until late in the first half, when Diego López did well to save from Adrián and Aranzubia somehow kept out a Gonzalo header following a corner. The locals won it though when Lopo slid the ball past the keeper after Juan Rodríguez headed back an Antonio Tomás free kick, and Juan Rodríguez felt himself unlucky to have a second strike ruled out late on for a borderline offside.

Levante climb out of the relegation zone after a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Almería, their third victory in a row. The early chances fell to the Valencia based side, Diego Alves saving from Caicedo and Juanlu shooting wide, but Piatti got the ball in the net at the other end only for the referee to rule it out for a narrow offside. Seven minutes after the restart the locals took the lead, Caicedo shooting low past Alves after Valdo and Xisco Muñoz combined to set him up, and Javi Venta brought a good save out of the visiting keeper minutes later. Crusat and Ulloa tried their luck after that, but hey couldn't prevent a defeat which leaves them in next to bottom spot, now four points behind their opponents in the table.

Osasuna drop in to the bottom three after losing 1-0 at neighbours Real Sociedad, a result which cost the head of coach José Antonio Camacho, who was reportedly fired after the match ended. The first half belonged to the home side, with Tamudo, Zurutuza and Sarpong all failing to find the target. And the pressure continued after the interval, with Ricardo tipping an effort from Tamudo over the bar and then having to save from Griezmann following a short free kick. Nekounam responded midway through the second half with a shot against the crossbar and a header which De la Bella cleared off the line with the keeper beaten. But soon afterwards Tamudo battled through to beat Ricardo at the second attempt and give his side three points which takes them to the brink of the European spots.

Zaragoza are only a point above Osasuna though after they were beaten 2-1 by Hércules. The Maños actually took the lead in the fourth minute when Braulio headed a wide Boutahar free kick down past Calatayud, and for the next hour and a quarter neither team particularly troubled the opposing keeper. But with ten minutes to go Farinós picked up a loose ball outside of the area and bent a long shot wide of Leo Franco and in off the post to level the scores. Seven minutes later the ex international midfielder found Trézéguet with a long pass for him to beat the keeper for a second time, and Calatayud ensured the three points with a last minute save from Bertolo.

Málaga stay bottom despite coming from two down to draw 2-2 against Getafe, although the point moves them a bit closer to safety. The visitors struck early on, Miku bundling the ball over the line after Arnau failed to cut out Colunga's cross. And midway through the first half Colunga ran on to Gavilán's high pass to lift the ball over the advancing keeper for the second. Before the break though Ustari had to be on his toes to keep out Baptista and Maresca, and Camacho, Baptista and Rondón all went close after the restart. Eventually though Baptista beat the keeper from the penalty spot after Marcano handled in the area, and with the game in injury time Rondón made it all square after Sebas played a long Sandro Silva cross back to him. (13.02.11)

Barcelona's record run of 16 straight league wins has finally come to an end after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijón on Saturday. With many players returning from international duty, and a Champions League game at Arsenal coming up midweek, Guardiola made some changes to his line up. They found themselves on the back foot though early on, Miguel brushing the bar with a long shot before Barral cut in past Piqué and Abidal to open the scoring. After that the Asturians defended well, and only after Pedro came on at the break did the visitors cause any problems for Cuéllar, the keeper doing well to save from Xavi, Messi and Alves. With ten minutes to go though he could do nothing when ex Sporting striker David Villa latched on to Messi's through ball to chip a shot over his head in to the net, and Pedro could have won it when he turned Messi's cross just wide of the far post near the end.

Earlier in the evening Valencia came back from a goal down to beat Atlético Madrid 1-2, a result which takes them up to third pending Villarreal's game on Sunday. With only three minutes gone Reyes picked up Forlán's pass and went past Jordi Alba and Ricardo Costa to give the locals an early lead, and Guaita did well to keep out a Raúl García header a few minutes later. With five minutes to go to the break Joaquín got on the end of an Alba cross to level the scores, and Forlán missed a chance to restore the lead when his penalty kick came back off the post after Maduro had flattened Reyes in the area ten minutes in to the second half. Agüero and Reyes had efforts stopped by Guaita and Stankevicius after that, but with four minutes to go Joaquín latched on to Pablo's short pass to score his second of the night. And when Godín was sent off for a foul on Joaquín it was all over, leaving Quique's job hanging by a thread.

Racing Santander's new coach Marcelino got off to a good start on his return to the Sardinero stadium, the Cantabrians beating Sevilla 3-2 to move away from the danger zone. Christian put the locals ahead in the twelfth minute after Palop dropped Adrián's corner at his feet, referee Iturralde González waving away claims for a foul on the keeper. Four minutes later Negredo wasted a chance to equalise when Toño saved his spot kick after Christian fouled Navas in the area, and soon afterwards Racing went two up when Rakitic deflected Kennedy's wide free kick past his own keeper. With eight minutes to go to the break though Christian was sent off for a foul on Dabo, and Fazio headed one back from the resulting Rakitic free kick. After the restart Negredo headed against the post before Luis Fabiano equalised with a second penalty after Kennedy caught Capel with a high kick, but with the game in injury time Arana scored the winner with a shot over the head of the stranded Palop from just over the halfway line. (12.02.11)