Second Division A - Day 36

Sevilla extended their lead at the top of the second division to four points after beating Badajoz 5-2 on Sunday evening. Goals from Podestá and Fredi in the first half and Zalayeta, Gallardo and Tevenet in the second took them to a five goal lead before Bracamonte and Leandro pulled two back near the end. They now have 67 points, only three away from the 70 which manager Caparrós has fixed as his objective to secure promotion. With only six games to go they are looking good for it, and with a seven point gap to the fourth placed team they would have to lose most of their remaining games not to go up. Next week they have to visit Atlético Madrid, and a draw or a victory there would take out a direct rival.

The second and third placed teams Tenerife and Betis both slipped up away from home. Tenerife looked on line for a draw at Extremadura until Jesús beat keeper Julio Iglesias with a long shot to snatch a 1-0 victory for the home side, their sixth in a row at home, with two minutes to go. Tenerife ended the match with ten men as Lussenhoff was sent off with a quarter of an hour to go. Betis also had a man who saw a red card, but that was their caretaker manager Luis Del Sol for protesting in the second half. In a bad tempered match they drew 1-1 at Leganés, who now take over as the draw specialists in the league after their nineteenth in 36 games. Betis went behind to a Puñal goal in the ninth minute but Casas finally got a deserved equaliser near the end with his sixth goal in five games to bring them level on points with Tenerife, four now behind Sevilla.

Fourth placed Recreativo increased the pressure on the top three with a narrow 0-1 victory over Getafe. A controversial late Xisco penalty after Hugo was ruled to have handled in the area gave them the three points to move them to within three of third placed Betis. Getafe's Mariano Juan was sent off for a second bookable offence at the end of the game, and referee Tristante Oliva had to be escorted off the pitch by police. Curiously club president José España had threatened to pull his club out of the league after some dubious refereeing decisions had gone against them recently, claiming there was a conspiracy to stop them being promoted. However after this match he and his players were jeered by angry fans, who claimed that his comments had influenced the referee's performance.

Atlético Madrid were the other team who benefited from the slip up of Tenerife and Betis, and their promotion hopes are revived after a 1-3 victory at Salamanca. With caretaker manager Cantarero on the bench following the sacking of Marcos Alonso last Monday they raced into a two goal lead, with Luque and top scorer Salva finding the net in the first half hour of the game albeit against the run of play. Toedtli closed the gap in the second half, but substitute Dani scored a third near the end to move Atleti to within two points of Recreativo and five of the promotion places. Referee González Vázquez turned down three penalty claims by Salamanca during the match. Albacete also kept their slim hopes alive with a comfortable 2-0 victory over struggling Compostela, and they stay two points behind Atlético. A goal in each half from Juanlu and Jesús gave them the three points in a match in which they missed several easy chances to extend their lead.

The bottom five teams all played on Saturday evening, and after the day's results the four relegation positions were a bit clearer. Elche were the only one of the bottom four to pick up a point after drawing 3-3 in the local derby at Levante in a game where the lead changed hands three times. Levante went in front through Salillas before half time, but Elche came back with two goals either side of the break through Serban and Nano. The home side re-established the lead with goals from Descarga and Salillas (who missed a penalty earlier on), but Iván Rocha made it all square with a free kick near the end. Salillas is now second in the Pichichi top goalscorers chart, two goals behind Salva.

Elche move a point above Getafe, although both lost ground on the team above them Racing Ferrol, who beat bottom club Lleida 0-1 thanks to a goal from Uriz (with a little help from keeper Carlos Busquets) with a quarter of an hour gone. Ferrol move on to 40 points, one above Compostela and five now above Elche. Eibar moved up to a safe position in the league after winning 3-0 against next to bottom club Universidad Las Palmas, with a goal in each half from Leniz and one in between from Cabrejo. With six games still to go, Lleida are close to being relegated mathematically, and Universidad have little chance of staying up, now nine points away from Compostela.

The other two games of the weekend were between four teams who have little else to play for this season, all comfortably placed in mid-table. Sporting Gijon beat Jaén 1-0 to move up to seventh in the table, ten points away from the promotion spots. The only goal came in the second half from a solo effort by Manel, on loan to the end of the season from Espanyol, and he has now scored nine times since he joined in January. The result ends Jaén's undefeated run of seven matches. Murcia and Córdoba recorded the only scoreless draw of the day after three penalty appeals were turned down in the match by referee Fernández Hinojosa. Murcia have now gone four games without a home win, and they drop to fourteenth position, with Córdoba eighth, level on points with Salamanca.