Zaragoza beat second placed Sporting Gijón 2-3 in a hot-tempered game on Sunday lunchtime to move up in to the top six for the first time this season. The match was overshadowed though by a half time brawl between players and coaches which left local manager Sandoval with a black eye, and the Asturians ended with eight men after Luis Hernández (min 54), Iván Hernández (min 67) and Nacho Cases (min 82) were all sent off by referee Santos Pargaña for second bookable offences in the second half, with red cards as well as Sandoval himself and his physical trainer Nacho Sancho. Roger got on the end of Barkero’s headed pass in the second minute to give the visitors the lead, but visiting keeper Leo Franco had several saves to make before Cases headed in a Luis Hernández cross to make it all square before the break. Sergio Alvarez ran through to put the locals in front just four minutes after the restart, but Montañés levelled it once again on the hour mark with an angled shot after the defence failed to clear a Cortés centre. With eight minutes to go Cuéllar saved a Víctor Rodríguez penalty after Cases was sent off for tripping the midfielder in the area, but six minutes later Cidoncha fired home the winner following a quick passing move.
With none of the top ten teams able to win, Deportivo actually extended their lead at the top of the table to three points despite a 0-0 draw at Jaén later in the evening. The Andalusians had already knocked their opponents out of the cup earlier in the season, and although two divisions separated the two teams last season, Manolo Herrero’s side more than held their own. A heavy pitch prevented too many chances, and keepers Lux and René were only troubled by free kicks from Santi Villa and Culio before the break. After the interval the locals had more possession, although they only had a couple of efforts off target by Fran Machado and Jona to show for it. Juan Domínguez and Culio both tested René again, and Luis fired a shot wide of the mark, but Nino could have won it for Jaén when he headed a Jozabed free kick just past the upright in the last minute of the match.
The other two games on Sunday evening also ended all square, Ponferradina staying two points off the play-off spots after a 1-1 draw at Girona. Local coach Javi López put out an attacking line up in his first game in charge at the Montilivi stadium, and the Catalans had the better of the game, with Timor having a strike ruled out for a non-existent foul. Alberto Aguilar headed the opener from a long free kick though with four minutes to go, virtually a first effort on target by the visitors, but three minutes in to time added on Juanjo was sent off for giving away a penalty on Timor, and Felipe Sanchón converted the spot kick to save a point for his side.
Girona remain in the relegation spots, still two points behind Barcelona B, who drew 2-2 at Alcorcón. It was a foggy evening in Madrid, and from the stands it was hard to see Denis Suárez run on to Dongou’s through ball to open the scoring midway through the first half. Five minutes after the break though Sergio Prendes equalized, poking the ball past Ortolá after the keeper could only block a previous shot from Rubén Sanz, Alcorcón’s first goal at home since the end of September. With ten minutes to go Dani Pacheco scored his side’s second, beating Ortolá at the second attempt after Javito put him through, but with the game coming to an end Adama Traoré picked up a long pass from Babunski to save a draw which keeps Eusebio’s side a point above the relegation spots. (05.01.14)
With the top two teams playing on Sunday, third placed Recreativo had a chance to move back in to the automatic promotion spots when they visited Córdoba on Saturday evening. However in the end they were beaten 2-0 by their neighbours, and after only winning one of their last nine games, their promotion challenge is faltering badly. Xisco opened the scoring for the locals on the half hour mark after collecting a centre from López Silva, although the strike should probably have been ruled out as the forward controlled the ball with his arm in the play. The visitors were left with ten men when Ruyman picked up a second booking early on in the second half, and Córdoba’s Abel Gómez hit the woodwork twice before new signing Arturo took advantage of a mistake by Jesús Vázquez to wrap things up just a few minutes after coming on as substitute.
Luckily for Recre, none of the teams immediately below them could win, although Eibar edge past them in the table on goal difference after they drew 0-0 at Lugo. The Basque side had the best chance of the match early on, but local keeper Dani Mallo made the save of the evening from Arrubarrena, and after that Mallo and his opposite number Irureta dealt comfortably with all other threats. It was Lugo’s first point in four games, and they stay in mid-table as a result. Later in the evening Las Palmas and Mallorca cancelled each other out in a 2-2 draw which left the Canary Islanders two points off the direct promotion posts, and their opponents still a point behind them in the table. Masoud put the home side in front midway through the first half with a shot in to the top corner of the net, and Aranda set up Aythami Artiles for the second at the start of the second half. However just a minute later Alfaro latched on to a Thomas pass to fire one back, and with twenty minutes to go Alex Moreno headed the equalizer from Nsue’s cross.
Numancia drop out of the top six after they lost 0-2 to Alavés, who themselves move off the bottom of the table as a result of their win. Natalio, Julio Alvarez and Juanma all wasted chances for the Soria based side before the break, but midway through the second half Jarosik headed the visitors in to the lead from an Emilio Sánchez free kick. Alavés keeper Iván Crespo did well to save from Alvarez after that, and with seven minutes to go Viguera ensured the three points from the penalty spot after a foul by Gafoor in the area. Murcia also missed out on an opportunity to return to the play-off spots after they were beaten 1-2 by Tenerife. All the goals came in the first half, Aridane getting the opener for the Canary Islanders following an Ayoze assist in the tenth minute. Kike García equalized a quarter of an hour later, connecting with Saúl’s cross to beat Roberto with a shot on the turn, but Luismi Loro restored the lead from the penalty spot after Dos Santos fouled Ayoze in the area.
Once more though few points separate the play-off and relegation spots, and Hércules and Sabadell have shot up from the drop zone to within two points of the top six after both won their third games in a row. Hércules won 1-0 against a Mirandés side who find themselves down in the bottom four after five games without a win. A strong wind affected play, but the locals went ahead in the eighteenth minute when Ferreiro beat Dani Jiménez with a well struck free kick. Yusre headed against the bar and Portillo fired a penalty kick against the post, but local keeper Falcón had to make a couple of late saves to ensure the three points. Sabadell meanwhile clocked up a 3-2 victory against Real Madrid Castilla. Angled shots by Anibal and Collantes put the Catalans two up in the first ten minutes. Llorente headed one back soon afterwards from a Lucas corner, but Hidalgo restored the two goal cushion with a free kick which deflected in off the defensive wall early in the second half. However Juanjo got himself sent off after picking up a second booking, and Anibal headed a wide Lucas free kick past his own keeper to set up a nail-biting finish. The defeat brings to an end Castilla’s run of a draw and five wins under new coach Manolo Díaz, and they find themselves back at the bottom the pack as a result. (04.01.14)