Barcelona Athletic beat Tenerife 1-4 on Monday evening to move up level on points with fourth placed Granada. The Canary Islanders were looking for a win to help them escape the relegation zone, but although Nino hit the bar early on, Edu Oriol opened the scoring for the visitors after picking up a pass from Sergio Roberto midway through the first half. Shortly before the break Nolito made it two after a good run by Marc Bartra, and after the restart Nolito had a hand in the next two goals, hitting the post with a shot which then hit Aragoneses and bounced back in to the net, and then scoring the fourth himself with a long lob which caught the keeper off his line. Nino fired home a late consolation for Antonio Tapia's team, but this was a real reverse for them after winning their last two home games, and to make matters worse Dubarbier was sent off for a second bookable offence late on. (07.03.11)
Celta suffered another set-back on Sunday lunchtime, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Alcorcón leaving them two points behind Rayo Vallecano in second place. After losing to Huesca midweek, Paco Herrera's side were in need of a result. But against a team who had won their last five home games this was never going to be easy, and Quini and Fernando Sales both brought good saves out of Falcón before Borja ran on to a Sales through ball to beat the keeper shortly before the break. After the restart De Lucas hit the post with a long free kick, but Sales replied with an angled shot against the upright, and any hope the Galicians had of saving a draw ended when López Garai was sent off for bringing down Quini in injury time.
Later in the day Betis beat Las Palmas 4-1 to move to within a point of Celta in the table. The Andalusians were looking for a victory to dedicate to young defender Miki Roqué, who has had to give up football for the time being after being diagnosed with a malignant tumour in the pelvis, and within six minutes they took the lead when Rubén Castro volleyed a cross past Barbosa. Shortly before half time Emaná scored a second from the penalty spot after the keeper pulled him down in the area, and a few minutes after the interval Jorge Molina made it three with a shot which looped in off the foot of David García. By this time the visitors were down to ten men after Lequi was sent off for a foul on Molina, but Javi Guerrero pulled one back at the second attempt after his first header came back off the bar. However Josico turned a Salva Sevilla corner in to his own net minutes later to leave the Canary Islanders struggling down in the drop zone.
The top three have opened up a nine point gap on the rest, but the remaining three play-off spots are wide open, with only five points separating nine teams. Girona's impressive run of ten games without defeat came to a sickening halt as they were thrashed 4-0 by a Recreativo side who started the game just two points above the bottom four. The Andalusians took the lead shortly before the interval when Juan Villar picked up a pass from Dani to beat Santamaría, and a few minutes in to the second half Asen got the second with a low shot from the edge of the area. And in the last six minutes Mora headed in a corner and Fidel beat the keeper with a second header from Villar's cross to take the Huelva based side five points clear of the relegation spots.
Valladolid were struggling to avoid relegation just a few weeks ago, but a run of four wins and a draw under Abel Resino has taken them to within two points of the play-off spots. This Sunday they beat bottom club Ponferradina 2-1, albeit that they left it late to do so against their regional rivals. All the goals came in the second half, with Javi Guerra starting things off, beating Alejandro with a shot on the turn after picking up Peña's long pass. Twenty minutes later Saizar made it all square, beating Javi Jiménez after the keeper could only push out an effort from De Paula. But with three minutes to go Javi Guerra dived forward to head in Nauzet's cross and keep up his side's recent momentum.
Valladolid are now level with Xerez, who slide down the table continued after a 1-1 draw at Huesca. The Andalusians had lost their last four matches, but they dominated the first half, with Mario Bermejo and José Marí missing a couple of good chances each. The scoreline remained unmoved though until ten minutes from the end, when Bermejo's header from Edu Moya's cross bounced down off the bar and just over the line, the referee waving away the local protests that the ball had not fully gone in. Five minutes later though Huesca were awarded a penalty when José Marí brought down Echaide in the area, the veteran forward sent off after picking up a second booking for the foul. And Camacho drilled home the spot kick to save a point and round off a good week for Onésimo's side, who have picked up seven points in the three games played.
Córdoba's run of thirteen home games without defeat came to an end when they were beaten 1-2 by Numancia. The Andalusians took the lead in the twentieth minute following a Jorge Luque free kick, Camille crossing in for Charles to smash a shot past Lafuente. However Del Pino headed in Barkero's corner to equalise on the stroke of half time, and midway through the second half the striker got his second of the evening after the keeper could only block an effort from Cedric following another corner. A much needed win for Unzué's side after three defeats in a row, and they climb a point above their opponents in the table. (06.03.11)
Rayo Vallecano moved up to the top of the table pending Celta's match on Sunday after beating Villarreal B 1-2 in the first match on Saturday evening. Both sides had chances before Aganzo opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, the referee ruling that his header from Piti's centre had crossed the line before Kiko headed it away. Gerard Bordás rattled the bar as the locals came looking for the equaliser after the restart, and with twelve minutes to go Jaume Costa finally beat Cobeño after the keeper could only push out an effort from Nicki Bille. But four minutes later Piti restored the lead with an angled shot to take his side back to the top of the pack once again.
Later in the evening fourth placed Granada lost more ground on the top three after losing 0-1 to Salamanca. Fabri's side had seen their recent good run come to an end at Girona midweek, but they had won their last five home games, and they dominated a first half in which visiting keeper Biel Ribas made three or four first class saves, in particular from Dani Benítez and Geijo. Five minutes in to the second half however Brain Sarmiento put Pepe Murcia's side in front after a quick counter-attack, and they could have won by a bigger margin in the end after Roberto saved a Marcos Márquez penalty and then Perico hit the post.
Salamanca's second win in four days takes them four points above the relegation zone, level on points still with Gimnàstic, who have also taken six points from their last two games after a 2-0 victory over Cartagena. Mairata opened the scoring for the Catalans midway through the first half after the defence failed to clear a Gerardo free kick, but only a great save by Rubén Pérez from Clavero kept them ahead at the break. With twenty minutes to go though Fernando Morán scored a spectacular second from just inside his own half, his shot flying over Casilla to tie up three important points which takes Juan Carlos Oliva's side up to sixteenth in the table.
The defeat means that Cartagena drop out of the play-off spots, now behind Elche on goal difference after Pepe Bordalás's side beat struggling Albacete 0-2. The result was in doubt though until the last five minutes, when Santos gave the visitors the lead after Kaylor Navas saved from Kike Mateo, and three minutes later Mateo got his name on the scoresheet after a clearance from Alan Baró hit him and bounced back in to the net. It was another blow for David Vidal's side, who stay in next to bottom spot having only taken two points from their last nine matches. (05.03.11)