Deportivo beat Real Sociedad 2-1 in the Monday night game to move five points clear of the drop zone. An early injury to Lassad brought on Riki, and the veteran striker went close a couple of times before opening the scoring with a shot on the turn after Colotto had headed across Guardado's long free kick shortly before the interval. Ten minutes in to the second half Adrián scored a second after Michel set him up, and although Agirretxe headed one back from a Xabi Prieto cross a few minutes later, Depor held on to take their unbeaten run to five games. (07.03.11)
Real Madrid answered Barcelona's challenge once again, a 1-3 victory over Racing Santander keeping them within seven points of their rivals in the table. With Ronaldo injured, Mourinho included Adebayor and Benzema together in the starting line up, and they were to share the goals between them in the end. Adebayor got the opener a few minutes after Alonso and Benzema had hit the bar, a quick team move ending with Özil squaring across for the striker to finish off. And four minutes later it was Benzema's turn to be assisted by Özil, this time a long pass which the number nine tucked away. Racing had a chance to get back in it after the break when Alonso bundled over Giovani in the area, but Casillas had no problems diving to save a weak Pinillos spot kick. And although Kennedy did beat the keeper a few minutes later after Lacen set him up, Benzema responded with his second of the night following good work by Di María. In the closing minutes Madrid were given a penalty themselves after Torrejón brought down Di María, but Adebayor too could only fire his kick at Toño. Not a night for penalty takers, but Adebayor and Benzema had proved that they can play together, another interesting option for Mourinho.
Earlier in the evening Espanyol were beaten 1-0 by Levante, a fourth away defeat in a row which means they drop a place to sixth. Levante themselves had won their last three home games, and they should have gone ahead when Juanlu's early shot appeared to bounce down over the line, Kameni reacting quickly to clear the follow up header from the winger. However referee Turienzo Alvarez gave the visitors the benefit of the doubt, and waved play on. A quarter of an hour later though there was no question when Caicedo ran in to head Valdo's cross past the keeper to open the scoring, and Valdo could have made it two when he broke free only to shoot wide. Alvaro Vázquez and Verdú went close either side of half time for an Espanyol side which was packed with youngsters following injuries to first choice players, but the locals held fast, and Jefferson Montero came close a couple of times to adding to the lead later on.
Athletic Bilbao climbed above Espanyol to fifth spot after a 2-0 victory over a Sevilla side who themselves drop out of the European spots as a result. It was a welcome win for the Basque team after four defeats in a row, and they came out strongly from the start, with Javi Varas saving well from Llorente and Javi Martínez, and Llorente heading a free kick just wide. The first goal didn't come though until midway through the second half when Fazio turned Muniain's cross past his own keeper, and Iraizoz had to be on his toes to prevent Kanouté from equalising later on. With two minutes to though Escudé brought down De Marcos in the area, and Iraola stepped up to drive home the resulting penalty. The game was tinted though by a series of injuries, the worst to Luis Fabiano and Toquero, as well as a clash of heads between Negredo and Iraola which left both heavily bandaged.
Further down the table, Sporting Gijón moved out of the relegation spots after a 2-0 win over Getafe. The Asturians had the better of the opening minutes, with Nacho Cases rattling the woodwork with a long shot and Rafa cutting out a dangerous attack by Canella. And with just over half an hour gone De las Cuevas picked up a cross from Canella and dummied past his marker to fire a low shot in to the far corner of the net. The pressure continued though, and eight minutes later André Castro added a second with a long shot which appeared to take a deflection off a defender. Barral could have increased the lead further had he been able to find the target a couple of times either side of half time, and the visitors didn't get near Cuéllar's goal until Colunga put a good chance wide after the restart. With a few minutes to go Codina got his fingertips to a Barral header to deflect it on to the bar, and the attacks carried on until Lora was sent off near the end for a second bookable offence.
Osasuna stay a point above Sporting though after a last minute 0-1 victory at Málaga, a result which left Pellegrini's side back at the bottom of the table. The coach had left some of his best players out of the midweek game in the Bernabeu stadium to prepare for this match, but they were over-run in a first half in which Nekounam in particular could have scored two or three times for the visitors. After the restart though the Andalusians got back in the game, with Quicy, Eliseu, Rondón and Sebas Fernández all trying their luck. But late in the second half Lolo headed a free kick against the post, and with the game in injury time Sergio got above the defence to head Masoud's corner in to the far top corner of the net to give Mendilibar's side their first away win in 22 games.
Hércules drop down in to the bottom three after losing 1-2 to Almería, who themselves move off the bottom the table above Málaga. The best chance of an even first half fell to Crusat, Calatayud doing well to turn his shot round the post, although the locals felt themselves unlucky to have three penalty appeals turned down. Five minutes in to the second half the Alicante based side took the lead, Abraham Paz steering a header past Diego Alves from a wide Farinós free kick, and a few minutes later Trézéguet should have scored a second when he blasted his shot over the bar after Tote lifted the ball over the defence. But the visitors responded with two goals in three minutes, Feghouli firing a shot past the keeper from Crusat's cross, and Mbami steering a first time volley in to the far corner from Goitom's centre. Almería haven't given up just yet. (06.03.11)
Another win for Barcelona on Saturday night, although once again they had to work hard before beating Zaragoza 1-0. With a Champions League match coming up on Tuesday, Guardiola rested some of his key players. The Maños had not won in the Nou Camp since 1965, but Aguirre had clearly decided his best tactic was to defend, reverting back to a five man defence with Sinama-Pongolle by himself up front. As a result most of the play was in the visitors half, with Barça mainly limited to long shots which Doblas and his defence dealt with comfortably. Keita did get the ball in the net on the half hour mark only for his header to be ruled out for a borderline offside, but a quarter of an hour later the midfielder scored what was to prove the only goal, turning a shot past the keeper after Messi played the ball in from the right. After the restart Doblas did well to keep out Piqué, Alves and Bojan, but Sinama could well have scored a rapid counter-attack, and Guardiola was forced to bring on his best players to make sure the result didn't slip away from them in the end.
Earlier in the evening third placed Valencia came from behind to beat Mallorca 1-2 in their Iberostar stadium, a ground where they have had poor results in their past visits. The Chés started well, Mata testing Aouate and Jonas shooting just wide, but with half an hour on the clock the locals were awarded a penalty when Ricardo Costa tripped Webó, and Ramis stepped up to beat Guaita from the spot. The lead only lasted a minute or so though before Pablo Hernández drilled home the equaliser after Aduríz headed back a long ball from Jonas. And although Webó and Nsue went close either side of half time, Pablo ran on to a Jonas through ball to score his second of the night soon afterwards. After that Laudrup's side pushed forward, but Guaita made a couple of important saves from substitutes Sergio Tejera and Aki Ienaga to make sure the scoreline remained unchanged.
Atlético Madrid rounded off the day with a 3-1 victory over fourth placed Villarreal which takes them up to sixth pending Sunday's games. Reyes started things off with a cracking goal in the fifth minute, his shot sailing over Diego López and going in off the post. Forlán and Mario Suárez both went close as Atleti looked to build on their lead, but with ten minutes to go the break Rossi levelled the scores following a short free kick, virtually their first and only shot at goal all night. After the restart Forlán had a goal disallowed for a tight offside, Reyes and Agüero just failed to find the target and Diego López made a couple of good saves from Forlán. It was just a matter of time, and in a four minute period the locals scored twice, Agüero picking up Filipe's high pass to lob the keeper, and Forlán latching on to a Reyes return pass to score against his old side. A good result for Quique's team, albeit that they are still twelve points behind their opponents in the table. (05.03.11)