Second Division A - Day 41

Excitement and controversy in the second division, with Betis, Tenerife and Atlético Madrid all winning at home in games rumoured to be influenced by illegal cash incentives. Whatever the truth was, only one point separates the three of them, and the last two promotion spots will be decided between them in the last round of matches next Sunday night. Betis won a bad-tempered match 1-0 in front of a 53,000 crowd against local rivals Recreativo Huelva, who are now out of the promotion race with this defeat. There were ugly scenes both on and off the pitch, and also in the directors' box when Betis's controversial president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera insulted his opposite number José España after Belenguer scrambled the winner near the end, accusing his team of accepting money from Atlético to get a result. España and his colleagues left the directors' box immediately afterwards in protest. Lopera even went on to say after the match that Recreativo should not have tried to win against them after Betis had loaned them players at the start of the season! Two minutes after the goal Recreativo got the ball in the net from a 40 metre free kick by Camacho, but Soto impeded keeper Prats from an offside position and the goal was disallowed. By then the visitors were playing with ten men after Juanmi was given a second yellow card twenty minutes from the end.

Tenerife cruised into a three goal lead against bottom club Lleida, with Mista scoring two and making another for new signing Bruno Marioni before the game was fifty minutes old. However with the visitors rumoured to be on a 50 million Pesetas bribe from Betis and/or Atlético Madrid to get a result, they pegged two back through a Cainzos own goal and a Renaldo strike before they were reduced to ten men at the end when Oriol was sent off. Tenerife hold on to third spot for the time being on goal average, although Betis have lodged a claim against the Canary Islanders for fielding Barata as an EU player in their game earlier in the season. The Brazilian subsequently had his licence revoked for using a false passport, and the federation could award the three points to Betis.

Another crowd of over 50,000 as Atlético Madrid struggled to beat Sporting Gijon who also appeared to be motivated by more than just personal pride. The game ended as a contest when Sporting were reduced to nine men after Isma and then Vicente were sent off for fouling young substitute Fernando Torres (that makes four in two games), and Luque hit the winner with a free kick. Referee Paradas Romero showed an incredible 16 yellow cards and two reds in the match. Hardly time for anything else. After Luque's goal Atlético were actually in the promotion spots for the first time all season, but their joy only lasted 12 minutes until Betis scored their winner. Atlético stay in fourth place, level with Tenerife on points but behind on goal average, and the only way they can be sure of promotion is to beat Getafe next week by six goals more then Tenerife get at Leganés. The dirty tricks department is already working overtime, and Atlético president Jesus Gil is rumoured to have offered no less than 100 million Pesetas to the Leganés players as a win bonus, and has bought up over 5,000 tickets for that match to give away to Atlético supporters for them to go and support Tenerife's rivals.

Leaders Sevilla wrapped up the league title last week, and they played out a 1-1 draw at Extremadura in the only game played on Saturday night. Under 21 international David Aganzo gave the home side the lead within a quarter of an hour of the kick off after Sevilla's Víctor had been sent off for a second bookable offence. However the visitors came back with ten men, and Loren made it all square in the second half. The draw ends Extremadura's run of seven home wins in a row.

The final relegation spot is now down to two teams, Elche and Compostela, who by chance play each other next weekend. Elche's 0-1 victory at Murcia this Sunday means that Compostela have to win away against their opponents to stay up. Changui got the goal for Elche late in the first half, and the youngster, who came through the lower ranks of Compostela, caused controversy after the match declaring that he would love to sink his ex club by scoring the winning goal after they treated him badly when he left. Compostela could only draw 0-0 at home to Jaén. The entry of Gudelj at half time put some life into the Gallicians after a terrible first half, but the 0-0 specialist hung on for their ninth scoreless draw of the season.

The loser of the Elche versus Compostela tie will join Lleida, Getafe and Universidad Las Palmas, who are already relegated. Getafe drew 2-2 at draw specialists Badajoz, and even if their appeal is accepted against the ruling to dock them three points, nothing will change. The Extremadura side went ahead two times, through Xavi Mora and Willy, but Getafe came back with goals from Pulido and Trigo to record a fairly meaningless point. Universidad's come back is a little too late but they won again, this time 2-1 against a weakened Leganés, to move above Getafe in the table. Alexis scored the winner from the penalty spot after Alberto had equalised Morales's opening goal.

Albacete started the day with a remote chance of promotion, but even though they beat Córdoba 1-4 with a Maikel hat-trick and another by Juanlu, they are now out of it. Marcos Márquez got the consolation goal for the home side, and ex Barcelona and Valencia international Roberto came on for the last five minutes before hanging up his boots for good. Out of the running too are the inconsistent Salamanca, who won 1-3 away at Eibar after going behind to a Barkero penalty early in the second half. Leo Ramos, Toedtli and Marinescu turned the result around in a game in which referee Valle Gil didn't show a single yellow card (he probably left it at home). . Elsewhere Racing Ferrol made sure of staying up with a 1-1 draw against Levante. Pavlicic got the first goal in the seventh minute, but Tomás levelled things before the interval. Ferrol could be caught on points by Compostela, but they have a better direct goal average. Levante record their 21st draw of the season, the same number as Badajoz.