Rayo Vallecano may be in financial turmoil, but their players are giving it their all, and they ended the weekend in top spot after beating promotion rivals Betis 1-0 on Sunday evening. Aganzo, Piti and Coke all went close, and Movilla tested Casto a couple of times as the Madrid based side dominated the first half. After the restart the visitors got back in the game, Cobeño having to save from Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina shooting just wide, but midway through the second half Piti got what was to prove the only goal with a shot from the edge of the area to take his team two points above their opponents in the table. A disappointment for Betis, although they are still four points clear of third placed Celta, who they meet next weekend.
Earlier in the day Elche consolidated fifth spot with a 1-0 victory over struggling Tenerife, their fifth win in a row. Kike Mateo headed the locals in to the lead from Palanca's corner in the seventeenth minute, but after that the Canary Islanders took control, with Natalio going close a couple of times in the first half. After the break local keeper Jaime had to make important saves from Nino and Igor. But Tenerife's challenge ended when Ricardo and then Berenguer were sent off in injury time, and after a fifth defeat in a row Antonio Tapia's side are now seven points away from safety.
Granada drop to seventh after a 1-1 draw at Xerez, who remain three points behind their regional neighbours in the table. Geijo gave the visitors an early lead, picking up a pass from Mikel Rico to round Chema and score his twentieth of the season, taking him level with Barça B's Jonathan Soriano at the top of the Pichichi chart. Capi brought a good save out of Roberto at the other end close to half time, but Carlos Calvo could have extended the lead before getting himself sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of an hour to go. Granada held on though until two minutes from the end, when Oscar Díaz saved a point for the locals from the penalty spot after Mikel Rico handled in the area.
Valladolid move to within two points of Granada and the play-off spots after thrashing Salamanca 0-5 in their local derby, which kicked off at mid-day. The locals were left with ten men when Héctor Yuste was sent off for a hard tackle on an opponent in the twentieth minute, but they held on until four minutes in to the second half, when Oscar González picked up a pass from Sisi to beat Biel Ribas for the first time. After that though the floodgates opened, Javi Guera scoring two in the next twenty minutes, the first a header following a corner, and the second a long shot. A second yellow card for Mario Rosas left Pepe Murcia's team with nine, and Jofre and Bacari took advantage to score two more late on. (27.03.11)
With the top two playing on Sunday, Celta had a great opportunity to move back in contention for an automatic promotion spot. However they put in another disappointing performance on a rainy night in Vigo, falling to a 0-3 defeat against a Recreativo side who are gradually moving clear of the relegation zone. The turning point of the match came seven minutes before the break when Falcón was sent off for elbowing Juan Villar in the face as he pressured the local keeper when making a clearance. Two minutes later the Andalusians went ahead, Emilio Sánchez beating replacement keeper Yoel after Pablo Sánchez played on an Aarón cross, and a few minutes after the restart Pablo Sánchez got the second after an individualist run. There was no reaction though from the Galicians, who have now only picked up one point from their last five matches, and Villar wrapped things up with a third goal in injury time.
Earlier in the evening Barcelona Athletic consolidated fourth spot with a 2-0 victory over Alcorcón. Luis Enrique's side went ahead in only the fifth minute, Thiago setting up Jonathan Soriano for his twentieth of the season, making him the second division "Pichichi" to date. Carlos Martínez hit the post for the visitors a few minutes later, but Nolito tested Manu Herrera a couple of times before picking up another Thiago assist to score his side's second early in the second half. Alcorcón were left with ten men later on when Rueda picked up a second booking, and the locals could well have added to the score in the dying minutes.
Cartagena are now fifth pending Elche's game on Sunday after beating Villarreal B 2-0. Juan Ignacio Martínez's side started the game just a point above their opponents, but Botelho put them ahead midway through the first half after winning the ball in midfield and running on to beat Spanish under 21 keeper Diego Mariño. After the restart Gullón hit the post for the visitors and Cygan had an effort cleared off the line, but Pabo Ruíz headed a second from an Iñaki Muñoz free kick, and new signing Riga almost added a third after coming on to make his debut for his new club.
Girona stay three points behind Cartagena, just outside of the play-off spots, after a 3-0 victory over Albacete. B team manager Mario Simón was in charge of the visitors after David Vidal was fired just six weeks after rejoining the club, but they fared no better under the new coach. With just over half an hour gone Jandro fired the home side in to the lead after Moha headed on a long ball, and midway through the second half Despotovic headed the second after Peragón headed back Jandro's cross. And with three minutes to go Peragón completed the scoring on a quick breakaway to end a run of three defeats in a row and leave the Manchegans further down in the drop zone.
As usual though things are very tight in the second division, and Numancia are not out of the running for a place in the play-offs after a 3-1 win over Huesca. The goals started early on, Barkero firing a shot past Andrés in the fifth minute and Tariq replying for the visitors three minutes later. With twenty minutes on the clock though Iñigo picked up a pass from Barkero to restore the lead, and after the break Nagore and then Robert were sent off for second bookings to leave both teams with ten men. With ten minutes to go however Cedric wrapped things up for the Soria based side, and they held on despite having Pavón sent off as well in the final minutes.
Córdoba ended the weekend just a point behind Numancia after beating Gimnàstic 1-0. Both sides had chances before Pepe Díaz got on the end of a Charles cross to beat Rubén Pérez shortly before the interval. Charles went close a couple of times after the restart and Powel brought a good save out Alberto García, but in the end Lucas Alcaraz's side could have won by a bigger margin after Pepe Díaz and Jonathan Sesma both failed to beat the keeper again when free on goal late on.
Nàstic are now just a place above the relegation spots after Las Palmas beat bottom club Ponferradina 1-0 to move two points above the Catalans in the table. It was not an easy victory though, and Del Olmo and Abraham caused some problems for local keeper Barbosa before the break. Pedro Vega and Sergio Suárez both came close to scoring for the Canary Islanders after the restart. But it was not until ten minutes from the end that Jonathan Viera set up Quiroga to beat Alejandro, ensuring a third win in a row under new coach Juan Manuel Rodríguez. (26.03.11)