The odds on Betis and Rayo Vallecano occupying the two automatic promotion spots shortened considerably this weekend after they opened up a nine point gap over their nearest rivals. Betis are still top on goal difference though after a 0-3 victory at high flying Barcelona Athletic on Sunday lunchtime. The stands in the Mini Estadi were packed with visiting supporters, all of whom were looking forward to returning to the bigger ground across the road next season. And they weren't disappointed, Rubén Castro latching on to Juanma's cross to open the scoring four minutes before the break, and Jorge Molina adding a second from another Juanma assist just before the half time whistle. Jonathan Soriano hit the post with a well struck free kick after the restart, but a few minutes later Iriney ran through to score a third, and the team captain almost got another when he hit the bar near the end.
Only one match left for Sunday evening, with Gimnàstic keeping themselves four points above the drop zone thanks to a 2-0 victory over Alcorcón. The Catalans went ahead early on when Powel got on the end of a Felipe Sanchón cross to beat Manu Herrera, and Eloy headed the second from another Sanchón cross ten minutes before the interval. Mingo got himself sent off though for a second bookable offence twenty minutes in to the second half, and after that Juan Carlos Oliva ordered his men back to defend the result. (24.04.11)
Most of this weekend's second division games took place on Saturday, with Rayo Vallecano taking another big step towards a return to the top flight after a 2-0 victory over Las Palmas. Aganzo saw his penalty kick saved by Barbosa early in the second half after he had been fouled by Pedro Vega in the area, but minutes later the striker made up for his mistake, heading the opening goal past the keeper from an Armenteros cross. The result was in doubt though until the third minute of injury time, when Delibasic scored the second, possibly with the help of an arm. It didn't matter though, Rayo had already done enough to move back above Betis pending their game on Sunday.
More importantly Rayo are now nine points above third placed Celta after the Galicians could only draw 1-1 with bottom club Ponferradina. David Rodríguez picked up a headed pass from Català to give the locals the lead in the twelfth minute. But Dani Abalo wasted a good chance to add to the scoreline before the break, and after the restart the visitors gradually got back in the game. With four minutes to go to full time Celta were left with ten men when substitute Mateo picked up two quick bookings, and in the third minute of injury time Yuri scrambled home the equaliser to save a point for his side.
Elche have been steaming up the table recently, and they are now in fifth spot after a 3-0 victory over Huesca, their sixth home win in a row. Angel headed the locals in to the lead on the half hour mark, but with an hour on the clock they were left with ten men when Kike Mateo picked up a second booking for diving in the area. Onésimo's team were unable to take advantage though, and Angel scored two more after that to complete his hat-trick, the first on a quick breakaway and the second from the penalty spot after the striker himself was fouled in the area.
Granada drop three points behind Elche though after they were held to a 1-1 draw at regional neighbours Córdoba. The heavy rain made play difficult, but Alberto García did well to save from Geijo before Pepe Díaz opened the scoring at the other end after Charles charged down a Roberto clearance. With five minutes to go to the break Charles rattled the post with a long shot, but a couple of minutes later Orellana equalised after Alberto could only push out a shot from Dani Benítez. Both sides had chances after the interval, but after Siquera was sent off for a second bookable offence, they decided that a point was sufficient for now.
Valladolid also lost ground on the teams above them after a 1-1 draw at Cartagena, and they ended the day still a point behind Granada in seventh place. Abel Resino's side had not lost in five games, and they took the lead in the fifth minute when Javi Guerra got on the end of Jofre's assist to beat Casilla. Nauzet could have put the visitors further ahead either side of half time, but with twenty minutes to go they were left with ten men when Matabuena was shown a second yellow card. And Toché took advantage of a loose ball a few minutes later to fire home the equaliser and give his team their first point in four matches.
Cartagena are now four points off the play-off spots, and Xerez are just a point behind them after a 4-2 win over struggling Albacete. The Manchegans were up against it from the 25th minute, when Alan Baró was sent off for a second bookable offence, but they held on until the second minute of the second half, when José Marí got on the end of an Oscar Díaz cross to open the scoring. Two minutes later though local keeper Chema saved a Calle penalty after Tato was brought down in the area, and four minutes after that Verza equalised following a quickly taken free kick. Strikes from Capdevila and José Marí opened up a two goal cushion for the Andalusians, but Calle got another one back, and the result was in doubt until José Marí completed his hat-trick in injury time.
Recreativo's great revival continues, and they are not ruling out a late challenge for the play-off spots after a 1-2 win at Numancia. Aitor gave the Huelva based side an early lead, and only some first class saves by Lafuente prevented the visitors from going further ahead. With twenty minutes to go though Juan Villar scored his side's second on a quick counter-attack, and although Ibrahima pulled one back for Juan Carlos Unzué's side a few minutes later, it came too late to change the result.
Recre move up to mid-table, two points clear of their opponents and level with Villarreal B, who won 0-1 at Tenerife to leave the Canary Islanders further down in the drop zone. The visitors had the better of the first half, Iago Falqué and Nicki Bille both going close before Falqué picked up a Hernán Pérez cross to open the scoring with just over half an hour gone. Nino and Julio Alvarez tested Diego Mariño after that, but it was another poor performance and the crowd called for the head of the club president at the end of the match. (23.04.11)
Salamanca kept their hopes of survival alive with a 1-0 victory over Girona in the Friday night game. The home side's third coach of the season, Balta, was in charge for the first time in the Helmántico stadium, and he saw his team go ahead in the third minute when Toti beat Dani Mallo with a shot from outside of the area. But despite dominating for the rest of the first half they were unable to create any clear cut chances, and Despotovic fired wide when free in front of goal later in the first half. Juanjo should have increased the lead after the restart, but in the end it didn't matter as Salamanca clocked up a first win in seven games to move to within a point of Nàstic pending their match on Sunday. (22.04.11)