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Match round-up - First Division, Day 25

The Monday night game featured the two clubs at the bottom of the table this week, with Málaga coming from behind against Almería to run out 3-1 winners in the end. Feghouli scored his first goal for his new side in the seventh minute after Willy Caballero failed to hold on to Luna's cross, but an inspired substitution at half time by Pellegrini brought on Maresca to equalise after Bernadello could only head back Recio's cross just seven minutes later. Piatti almost put the visitors back in front with a spectacular first time volley against the post, but Ulloa was sent off soon afterwards for a second bookable offence, and with twelve minutes to go Rondón got on the end of Apoño's cross to steer a header past Diego Alves. The visitors were left with ten men when Luna was also shown a second yellow card, and with the game in injury time Maresca laid back a Gámez throw-in for Juanmi to wrap things up. (28.02.11)

Valencia consolidated third spot after coming from behind to beat sixth placed Athletic Bilbao 1-2 on Sunday evening. The rain in the San Mamés favoured the home side, and Llorente tested Guaita a couple of times before picking up Toquero's pass to hold off his marker and open the scoring with just under a quarter of an hour gone. Honours were shared after that for the rest of the first half, but Athletic were on top again after the restart, with Toquero testing the keeper again and Llorente hitting the post. However with twenty minutes to go a good team move ended with Joaquín setting up Mata to equalise, and new signing Jonás got the winner for the visitors ten minutes later after Iraizoz failed to hold on to a long shot from Tino Costa.

Valencia move four points clear of Villarreal, who saved a late 2-2 draw at Racing Santander earlier in the evening. Ariel put the Cantabrians in front in only the third minute after latching on to a Pinillos cross, and the striker could have added to the lead a couple of times had Diego López not kept him out either side of half time. Marco Rubén equalised though with a well placed header midway through the second half, but Giovani restored the lead three minutes later after collecting a through ball from Munitis. Either side could have scored after that, but it was Nilmar who saved a point for the visitors in injury time after Rossi headed on Cazorla's corner.

Getafe's intermittent season continued with a 0-0 draw at Hércules, keeping Michel's side three points off the European spots, and their hosts just two above the drop zone. The visitors had the better chances in the first half, with Rafa firing a shot over the bar from close up and Colunga hitting the outside of the post just before the break. But the home side should have wrapped things up after the restart, with Trézéguet missing a couple of easy chances and Codina recovering well to save from Portillo. Fritzler was lucky though not be give away a penalty when the ball hit him on the arm late in the second half, and Cristian almost won it for the Alicante based side when his deflected shot hit the bar with two minutes to go.

Levante were one of the favourites to go back down this year, but they are putting up a good fight and beat fellow strugglers Osasuna 2-1 this weekend to move two points above the Pamplona based team in the table. The Pamplona based side were on a high after a first win under Mendilibar last week, and although Ricardo had to push a long shot from Juanlu on to the post, Pandiani headed the visitors in front from Masoud's cross four minutes before the break. Ballesteros headed the equaliser though three minutes later after Xisco's free kick came back off the bar, and soon after the interval Caicedo ran on to a long clearance from Munúa to ghost past Nelson and beat the keeper from a wide angle. Ricardo made some good saves after that, but Lekic almost saved a point for the visitors with a header against the post late on. (27.02.11)

Barcelona are now seven points clear at the top of the table after a 0-3 victory at Mallorca on Saturday evening. With Valdés, Puyol and Xavi injured and Alves suspended, Pep Guardiola's much changed side took some time to get started, and Webó in particular caused some problems for Pinto early on. Messi though started to make his mark, firing a shot wide from Iniesta's assist before running on to Keita's high pass to head the ball over Aouate to open the scoring seven minutes before the break. Ten minutes after the restart Villa ran on to Busquet's long through ball to make it two and a few minutes later Pedro picked the ball up on the left of the area and fire a shot over the keeper in to the far top corner of the net. Game over, and Guardiola rested a couple of his key players after that, already thinking about Wednesday's visit to Valencia's Mestalla stadium.

Real Madrid drop further behind the leaders though after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo later in the evening. Madrid's victory in the Riazor stadium last season was their first in 18 seasons, and the Coruña based side have always been one of their bogey teams. And so it was this time around, with the Merengues dominating for much of the game without being able to beat a confident Aranzubia. A well organised defence limited the visitors to long shots for much of the first half, with Kaká, Ronaldo and Özil going close, and Ronaldo getting the ball in the net only to be pulled up for a borderline offside. After the interval Aranzubia saved from a Ronaldo free kick, and Adebayor and Ronaldo both hit the post, but the Galicians held on for an important point which keeps them three above the drop zone.

Earlier in the day Espanyol returned to winning ways after four defeats in a row, a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad taking them back up to fifth. Tamudo was making an emotional return to his old side, and he and Zurutuza brought good saves out of Kameni early on. Near the end of the first half though Estrada scored at both ends, deflecting a wayward shot from Alvaro Vázquez past his own keeper, and then making up for his mistake by levelling the scores after Demidov headed back Griezmann's corner. However Sergio García put the Catalans back in front after turning past his marker to beat Bravo a few minutes in to the second half, and in the last ten minutes Callejón and Javi Márquez added two more, the first from Rui Fonte's pass and the second with a well struck free kick.

Real Sociedad's defeat means that Sevilla hold on to seventh spot after a 2-2 draw at Atlético Madrid, who remain a point below their opponents in the table. Both sides had chances early on, but the Andalusians took the lead late in the first half when Negredo volleyed a shot past De Gea after Perotti chested back Dabo's cross. Two minutes after the restart youngster Koke equalised, steering a header past Javi Varas from Forlán's centre, but Rakitic restored the lead a few minutes later with an angled shot after Jesús Navas laid the ball across from the right. With a quarter of an hour to go though Reyes made it all square again after running on to Antonio López's long ball, setting up a frantic last few minutes in which Varas kept out Agüero after Tiago's quick free kick, and Negredo almost won it for the visitors with a shot against the crossbar.

Further down the rankings Sporting Gijón and Zaragoza shared the points in a 0-0 draw, a result which left the visitors still down in the drop zone, a point behind the Asturians in the table. Honours were shared in the first half, with Miguel and Barral testing visiting keeper Doblas and Sinama and Ponzio failing to find the target at the other end. But after the restart the locals were on top, Gabi clearing off the line from Miguel with the keeper beaten, Doblas tipping a long shot from José Angel over the bar and Eguren shooting just wide. Carmelo also had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside later on, but Aguirre's side held on for a valuable point which keeps their hopes of survival alive. (26.02.11)