Second Division A - Day 23

Atlético Madrid struggled to beat Eibar 1-0 in the Calderón stadium, but ended the day even further ahead at the top of the table, now seven points clear of the second placed side. Luis Aragonés's side didn't manage a shot on goal in the first half, and eventually went ahead thanks to a controversial penalty after Félix Guerrero was ruled to have fouled Fernando Torres. Diego Alonso converted the kick for his tenth of the season. Eibar felt they too should have had a penalty when Movilla brought down Solaun, and their manager Blas Ziarreta was sent off in the last minute after picking up two yellow cards for protesting. The Basque side lose contact with the other clubs fighting for promotion and ended the weekend in tenth place, seven points behind the top three.

Second placed Xerez finally returned to their home town of Jerez de la Frontera after agreeing terms with the local council to play in the Juventud stadium, but it was not a happy home-coming as they were defeated 1-2 by Extremadura. The visitors' flamboyant new signings Pier and Kiko were in their squad for the first time, and it was Pier who opened the scoring for them only eleven minutes after kick off. Xerez equalised in the second half from their new signing Antonio De la Calle, but with Kiko on the park for the last twenty minutes the visitors came looking for a winner. Pier had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside, and then in the fifth minute of injury time Pedro José gave his side the three points heading home from close range after keeper Ramón could only parry a shot free kick from Juan Carlos Moreno.

Two of last year's relegated sides Oviedo and Racing Santander drew 0-0 on Sunday lunchtime to keep up their fight for promotion back to the top flight. Oviedo got off to a bad start when their Russian midfielder Onopko got himself sent off for the third time this season for insulting the referee in only the third minute of the game. After that the Asturians were forced to defend, although Racing were unable to take advantage on a heavy pitch which made creative play difficult. Bodipo went close two or three times for the visitors and Txiki hit the bar in the final minutes, and Rubén wasted a good chance at the end in a rare breakaway. With nobody below them taking advantage, Racing stay in third place on 38 points, four behind Xerez. Oviedo's sixth scoreless draw of the season leaves them in sixth place, three points still behind their Cantabrian rivals.

The same score between the other relegated side Numancia and fourth placed Recreativo in Soria, a dull game with hardly a shot on goal throughout. The only chances fell to the home side, with Barbu, now back in the first team squad, bringing a good save out of César and Jaume going close with a header before the break. Huelva's Alex Pereira was sent off for a second bookable offence ten minutes from the end. Recreativo stay fourth a point behind Racing, with Numancia in the middle of a group of six teams on 29 points in the bottom half of the table.

Burgos keep up their good away record, also drawing 0-0 against next to bottom club Gimnastic Tarragona, and they have not lost now outside of their Plantio stadium since the first week of October. Despite the return of veteran striker Cuéllar, Nàstic were unable to get past an efficient and at times aggressive defence who received seven yellow cards between them during the match.After fans protested at the end of the match, Nàstic decided to name Lobo Diarte as their new manager as replacement for caretaker Jaume Bonet, who becomes Diarte's number two.

Burgos stay in fifth place on 36 points, a point behind Recreativo and one above Oviedo. They are followed by Albacete and Salamanca, who are level on 34 points after the visitors became only the second side to win in the Carlos Belmonte stadium this season. It was a close fought match, with keepers Valbuena and Aizpurua starring in the first half with saves from Robert and José respectively. The only goal came in injury time at the end of the match, Tomás blasting the ball over the line to give them a 0-1 victory.

Racing Ferrol moved up to within a point of them with a 1-2 victory at Murcia. The home side took the lead from a Tito free kick in the tenth minute, but Luis César brought on Redondo at half time, and he equalised only two minutes after coming on. Another substitute Emery got the winner for them later in the half. The home fans protested at club president Jesús Samper after the game for not stregthening the side in the winter break, and they drop to eighteenth, now only two points above the relegation zone.

Córdoba's manager Pepe Murcia was told that his club was already looking for a replacement for him after they were knocked out of the quarter final of the cup by second division B side Figueres midweek. They played Levante at home, and things looked bad after Setvalls scored just before the break for the Valencia based side. Goals from Juan Carlos Soría, Whelliton and Alfonso in the second half gave Córdoba a 3-1 victory in the end, but even that was not enough to save Murcia, who was replaced by Mariano García Remón the day after the match, their fourth manager of the season.

Badajoz's good run has well and truly come to an end, and they lost at home 1-2 to Sporting Gijon. Jornet did give them an early lead, but Villa levelled before the break, and the striker got the winner from the penalty spot in the second half after Baines brought down Pablo Alvarez to give the Asturian side their first win in five games. They head up a group of six teams on 29 points, moving above their opponents on goal average.

Also level on 29 points are Extremadura, Numancia, Jaén and Elche, who won their first game in seven with a 1-0 victory over relegation candidates Leganés. The only goal came from Moha on the stroke of half time. It was the first time ever that Elche had beaten their opponents after eleven previous encounters, but it was a fair result with Leganés hardly managing a shot at goal. The Madrid based side stay down in nineteenth place.

Jaén lost to bottom club Poli Ejido 1-0, who recorded their third win of the season thanks to a headed goal in the seventh minute from new signing Gabriel Bordi. Another new signing Segura made a vital save from Pepelu soon afterwards, and with other signings due shortly, the Andalucian club are looking to buy their way out of trouble. They have a long way to go though, and although they close up to within two points of Nàstic, safety is still nine points away.