Second Division A - Day 15

Defeats for the top two teams this week threw the second division wide open. Leaders Tenerife lost 0-2 to Extremadura, spoiling their record run of six victories in a row, although they still hold on to a three point lead thanks to slip ups by the teams chasing them. The wonderfully named referee Bello Rebollo awarded a controversial penalty against the run of play in the first quarter of an hour which young David Karanka converted, and with Tenerife throwing everything forward, Ismael added a second on a breakaway in injury time for the visitors. Second placed Sevilla lost the opportunity to draw level with the Canary Islanders, losing also by two goals to nil against the other Extremaduran side, Badajoz. Sevilla only showed any ideas after youngster Víctor came on in the second half, hitting the woodwork twice before the locals came back to score through Pedro Largo and Leandro late in the game.

With none of the next four teams winning, Albacete and Betis took advantage with victories to move up to third and fourth place respectively, two points behind Sevilla on 25 points. Albacete laid down their challenge for a return to the top flight with a 0-2 victory over Compostela, whose fans ended up calling for the head of manager Carlos Ballesta as they slip closer to relegation. Edu García and José scored in the second half for the visitors, and Javi Guerrero even missed a penalty at the end which would have made it three. Betis continued their good run with a 2-1 victory over Leganés. It took them an hour to break down a five man defence, but then two in five minutes through Amato and Gálvez gave them the points. A late penalty by Puñal gave local supporters a small fright though, in a match preceded by controversy for the announcement of criminal proceedings against club president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera for presumed tax fraud. Lopera denies all charges.

Atlético Madrid manager Marcos Alonso saved his post for the time being with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Salamanca. Switching back to a 4-4-2 system, Atleti took a two goal lead by half time through Salva, with a little help from Kiko, and Aguilera with an individualist goal, and Salva headed his second from a Luque cross near the end. This was their best win for almost a year and moves them four points away from the relegation zone, although wins by teams around them means they are still only sixteenth. Salamanca drop right down from fifth to ninth, although with only eight points separating third from eighteenth that is not too serious at this early stage. By the same token, the team that were third, Córdoba, fall to sixth after losing for the second week in a row, this time by 1-3 to a Murcia team that is back on song. Loreto scored twice for the visitors, taking him level with Tenerife's Luis García at the top of the "Pichichi" table with eight goals, and although Soria pulled one back before half time, Luis Gil added the third at the end. Murcia are now only a point behind Córdoba, seventh on 24 points.

Recreativo Huelva drop a place to fifth after an incredibly boring sixth 0-0 draw of the season, this time against Getafe. They have also drawn three more games 1-1, and have a scoring record of 10-5 after 15 games. Needless to say, their keeper César is the leading "Zamora" of the second division. Some 9,000 long suffering fans still turned up, and were greeted by a poster supporting the fight against drugs. If you ask me, all 22 were under the influence of something. Real Jaén are another team with a low scoring record, and they drop further down the table to eleventh after losing 0-2 to Sporting Gijon, their first home loss of the season. The goals both came from substitute Rivarola, an Argentinian born defender, in the last 20 minutes after Puche had been sent off for the home side. Sporting draw level with Jaén on 21 points.

Levante drop to eighth after drawing away at Elche 1-1. Socorro put the home side in front in the second half despite playing with ten men after Javi Navarro was sent off in the first half. However when referee Paradas Romero also gave Elche's Manusovich his marching orders halfway through the second, Salillas pulled one back to save a point and his team's undefeated away record. Elche have not won now in two months, and drop to seventeenth, only two places above the drop zone. Racing Ferrol won the relegation battle against Lleida by 3-1, with two goals by Nogueira after Ramón had equalised Sueiro's early goal. Both sides ended up with ten men after Sueiro and Garrido were sent off by referee Pérez Lima. Ferrol jump a place and two points above Lleida, only two now behind nineteenth placed Compostela. However the bottom four are now three points adrift of the rest. Bottom club Universidad Las Palmas scraped their eighth point of the season with a lifeless 0-0 draw at home to Eibar and are two behind Lleida. One warning to fans visiting Las Palmas: don't get confused. Vinny Samways, Jarni and all play for first division side Unión Deportivo Las Palmas. Heaven help you if you end up watching this lot by mistake.