Second Division A - Day 38

Sevilla virtually secured promotion to the first division with a 2-0 victory over their Andalucian neighbours Córdoba. Podestá opened the scoring in the first half and Michel added the second in stoppage time after their rivals had been reduced to ten men when Melgar picked up a second yellow card ten minutes from the end. With 70 points they stay three points ahead of Tenerife and four above Betis, who themselves opened up a four point gap over the chasing teams with victories away from home. Second placed Tenerife won 0-1 at Murcia with a late header by Argentinian defender Lussenhoff. The goal came from a non existent free kick awarded by referee Bello Rebollo which upset the local crowd. Tenerife's new signing Bruno Marioni, ex of Villarreal, made his debut in the second half.

Betis stay a point behind them after winning 1-2 at Sporting Gijon. Amato got the opening goal early on, heading home Denilson's cross, but Manel equalised before the break after Russians Lediakhov and Tcherychev combined to set him up for his tenth goal since joining the club on loan in the winter. Betis were reduced to ten men early in the second half after Belenguer was given a second yellow card rather harshly after handling accidentally, but Amato scored again in the second half with another header to give them victory. It was his fifteenth of the season since he joined them in December, and takes him fifth in the second division Pichichi chart.

Atlético Madrid (and others) were involved in a series of accusations and counter-accusations during the week about "maletines", third party under-hand payments (literally suitcases full of cash) to teams playing against their promotion rivals as an added incentive to win, or even to their direct opponents (or for example referees) for them to lose. Neither is legal in Spain, although the latter is obviously considered more serious than the former. Everybody accused everybody else, although nothing can be proved one way or the other. In the end though Atlético put in a disappointing performance, drawing 1-1 at bottom club Lleida who are already mathematically relegated. With or without maletines, Renaldo scored for the Catalans late in the first half, and Correa headed the equaliser after Lleida's Vlademir had been sent off. Referee Arcas Piqueras turned down a penalty appeal from the Colchoneros to demonstrate that he was not biased in favour of Atlético after last week's controversial statements by their rivals, and missing the suspended Salva, the visitors were incapable of getting another goal.

Atlético stay fifth, level on 62 points with Albacete and Recreativo. Albacete kept up their challenge with a 1-0 victory over Racing Ferrol, their third win in a row. Jesús got the only goal in the second half. Recreativo played out a dull 0-0 draw against struggling Elche, their fifth home draw in a row and their twelfth of the season. The Huelva based side have now only conceded 23 goals in the league all season, and their goalkeeper César is leading the second division Zamora table in a season where no less than seven keepers have let in less than one goal a game.

Elche climb out of the relegation zone ahead of Compostela on goal average, although it may be short-lived as the Gallicians' 2-1 defeat at the hands of Getafe could be reversed as the Madrid based team had four non-EU players on the pitch for the last five minutes of the first half. Jubera gave the visitors the lead after the break, but goals by Trigo and Maikel gave the home side the victory to take them to within two points of their rivals. Compostela's appeal will be heard this week, and if successful would virtually condemn Getafe to relegation.

Universidad Las Palmas moved a step closer to relegation after losing 4-0 to Salamanca. After a boring first half the Romanian show took over, with Marinescu scoring twice and Munteanu adding the fourth after Barbará had got the third goal minutes earlier. The other two fixtures of the day were hardly worth playing. The matches Eibar versus Extremadura and Leganés versus Badajoz both ended 0-0, with hardly a scoring chance in the 180 minutes. All four teams are fairly comfortably situated in the middle of the table, and they would have been better off deciding the result by telephone and staying at home.