|Second Division A - Day 20|
With a two week break for the festive season coming up, six matches were brought forward to Saturday evening. Leaders Atlético Madrid increased their lead at the top of the table with a 2-0 victory over third placed Racing Santander, and already have one foot in the first division. The visitors made an aggressive start, and Atlético midfielder Carreras was carried off early on after a hard tackle by Bodipo. A few minutes later another foul by Ismael on Aguilera earned him a red card, and Racing played the rest of the game with ten men. The score remained unchanged until a quarter of an hour from the end, when Fernando Torres ended the Madrid side's three game goal drought with a shot in off the bar. Luque added the second in injury time to open up a four point gap over second placed Xerez. Racing drop a couple of places to fifth.
Xerez lost ground on Atlético Madrid when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Recreativo Huelva on Sunday lunchtime. Both sides created scoring opportunities, but the state of the pitch made it impossible to play good football. The best chances fell to Pineda and Mena for the home side and Raúl Molina for the visitors but the ball kept getting held up in the mud, and conditions got worse as the game wore on. Xerez ended the day four points behind the leaders, but with a seven point gap over their rivals who are still fourth, just behind Burgos on goal average.
The fight for the third promotion spot is hotting up, with five teams separated by two points after this weekend's games. Burgos staked their claim on Saturday, climbing above their rivals with their sixth away win of the season. They beat struggling Murcia 1-2, who drop down to the relegation zone with this defeat. A Dani Pendín header and a shot from Iñaki gave the visitors a two goal lead at the interval, but after Chato González brought on Aguilar and Peternac in the second half the home team got back in the game. Peternac pulled one back from the penalty spot, but Burgos held on to take the three points and move on to 32 points, one above Racing Santander.
Albacete kept up their hopes of promotion with a good 2-1 win over Racing Ferrol, who were level with their rivals on 27 points at the start of the day. Dani Ruiz put the home side in front, and although Emery made it all square a few minutes later, Toril re-established the lead just before half time. Only the woodwork and a good performance by Ferrol keeper Aizkorreta stopped Albacete from extending their lead in a second half which the home side dominated entirely. The game was stopped for almost half an hour in the first half due to a power cut.
Oviedo drop further down the table after losing 1-0 to the team lying next to bottom in the table, Gimnastic Tarragona. The only goal came in the second half from Nástic's new signing from Betis, Angel Cuéllar, who got on the end of Dani Marín's free kick to beat Esteban. It was Cuéllar's third goal since joining the club only eight days ago, and the veteran striker could have scored on two or three other occasions with a bit more luck. The Asturian side were lacking fire power, and although they have the best defence in the league, they have only scored 19 goals all season, less than one a game.
Oviedo fall to seventh, albeit only two points below third placed Burgos and two above Eibar, who beat Córdoba 0-2 to record their first away win in almost a year. The result brings the Andalucians back down to earth after they knocked Mallorca out of the Spanish cup midweek to reach the last eight of the competition. Cabrejo opened the scoring for the Basques from the penalty spot in the 37th minute of the first half, and Jorge Sánchez got the second in the 37th minute of the second. The match was played in a constant rainstorm which made conditions difficult throughout the 90 minutes.
Badajoz halted their recent run of three losses in a row after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Levante. The visitors took the lead in the first half through Setvalls, and Kaiku put the Valencia based side further ahead with a coolly taken strike with fifteen minutes to go. However Tulipá pulled one back, and Bracamonte scored a spectacular goal in the last minute to save a point for the Extremadurians. The good news for Badajoz was that their manager was not diagnosed as having malaria. Having worked in Africa he was concerned that his current ill health could be serious, but in turned out that he just has a heavy cold.
Badajoz are level with Eibar and a point ahead of Salamanca, who drew 1-1 away at Sporting Gijon. The match was played in sub-zero temperatures, and both sides were happy at the end to share the points and return to a warm dressing room. Dani Borraguera put the Asturians in front after Villa laid the ball back, but Robert equalised for the visitors on the stroke of half time with a shot into the roof of the net.
Jaén recorded a much needed 1-3 win at Elche to take them away from the relegation spots. It was too much though for manager Francisco López, who handed in his resignation after the match for personal reasons following heavy criticism by some members of the board. Francisco is the eleventh manager to go this season in the second division, and a replacement should be named soon. Barajas gave his side the lead, with Ramón equalising before half time for the home team. However two goals in three minutes, the first from Zahinos and the second from a free kick by new signing Navarro, gave the Andalucian side the three points. This was Elche's first home defeat of the season.
Numancia kept up their shaky recovery under manager Sánchez Duque with a last minute 1-0 victory over Leganés on a bitter cold night in Soria. The only goal came in injury time when Culebras scrambled the ball over the line after a corner, taking his side away from the relegation spots for the time being, level on points with Sporting and Jaén. However Sánchez was critical of his players, and has threatened to put more than one on the transfer list if they don't buck up their ideas. Leganés drop back to within a point of the relegation zone.
Extremadura moved out of the bottom four above Murcia and Levante after drawing 0-0 at bottom club Poli Ejido. A packed crowd turned up at the Santa Domingo ground to watch the Andalucian side, who have yet to lose at home under manager Castro Santos. There were few chances however, the only real action coming when Manuel hit the post for the visitors in the first half and Trzeciak went close for the home side after the break.