Second Division A - Day 18

Murcia moved up a place to second with an impressive 6-1 win on Saturday evening over Las Palmas. Tito started things off from the penalty spot after the referee ruled that Lima had handled in the area, and Ismael added a second from Acciari's pass before the interval. Richi headed a third almost immediately after the restart, and after making a triple substitution, Yosu Uribe's side pulled one back through Angel Sánchez. However Karanka scored again for the locals a minute later, and went on to complete a second half hat-trick with two goals, both from crosses by Ismael, in the last ten minutes. The result was good news for Murcia's explosive manager David Vidal, who had been in trouble after insulting the press midweek.

Elche kept up their unbeaten away record with a 1-1 draw at Terrassa, and they hold on to fifth spot, two points and two places above their opponents. Babangida put the home side ahead in the fifth minute, running on to round keeper Toni who was probably playing his last game before returning to Espanyol. However Melgar struck the bar for the visitors with a long shot, and soon afterwards Meca beat Morales with a free kick which crept under the defensive wall to equalise. Both sides hit the woodwork after the break, but there was no further score.

Córdoba held on at Racing Ferrol to draw 0-0 and take a point which lifts them off the bottom of the table. Both sides lined up with new signings, but there were virtually no scoring chances worthy of mention throughout the match. This was Ferrol's third draw in a row, and they drop into the bottom half of the table. Córdoba have not scored a single goal in nine away games, although they have taken five points from scoreless draws.

Oviedo drop back to last place after they were beaten 0-3 by Poli Ejido, and they have yet to win in the Carlos Tartiere stadium this season. They did get off to a good start this time, Keita heading against the bar, but the heavy pitch took it's toll in the second half, and the visitors scored three times through Sabino, Luis Gil and Sierra to take them back up to ninth in the table. Oviedo's manager Vicente Villamil had to watch the last hour from the stands after he was shown two yellow cards for protesting.

It was a bad day for Asturias, with Sporting Gijon's run of seven games without defeat coming to an end at the hands of Ejido's neighbours Almería. The locals took the lead from the penalty spot after Javi Peña was brought down in the area, Francisco converting the kick, and could have extended their lead when Francisco and then Juanlu went close. Sporting's Manel almost levelled the scores later in the second half though. (11.01.03)

Leaders Zaragoza played for the first time in their history on Sunday lunchtime, but it was not a successful exercise as they held to a 2-2 draw by Leganés. Yordi gave them the lead from the penalty spot in the first half after Delio Toledo was brought down in the area, and Cani almost put them further ahead with a shot against the crossbar soon afterwards. However Paco Flores' team relaxed near the end, and lapses of concentration by the defence let in Miguel Angel to score twice in the last ten minutes to put the visitors ahead. There was another twist in the tail though, and with the game in the second minute of injury time referee Castillo Estévez awarded another controversial penalty to the home side, ruling that Macanás had handled deliberately in the area. That meant a second yellow card and expulsion for the defender, and Yordi gratefully tucked away the kick to save a point and keep his side three points clear at the top.

Two late goals in three minutes from substitute Jesús Perera gave Albacete a 1-2 victory at Getafe, also at midday on Sunday. It was a freezing cold day in Madrid, and there was little to warm up the crowd in a dour midfield battle in the first half, with the only action a long shot from Alberto which tested Roa early on and a free kick from new signing Delporte which keeper Pindado almost turned into his own net. Craioveanu scrambled the ball home to give the lead to the home side early in the second half, and Ferrando brought on Perera straight away. Within a quarter of an hour he had levelled the scores, and with the local defence still arguing a possible offside, he headed a second to give his side the victory and join Sporting's Villa at the top of the Pichichi chart with nine goals.

The Manchegans join Murcia and Levante on 30 points, three points behind the leaders, although at the end of the weekend they stayed in fourth position on goal difference. Levante took a point in a 0-0 draw at Tenerife to stay in third place, the Canary Islanders' thirteenth draw of the season. The cold had even reached that far South, and many spectators stayed at home. It was a good decision, as there was little to cheer about in the ground. Although there were several opportunities in the first half, the first real shot on target came after the break when Amato hit the bar for the visitors with the goal at his mercy. A few minutes later though new signing Lekumberri was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Levante keeper Rafa had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Paunovic, Basavilbaso and Ayoze. In injury time Tenerife's Edu Moya was also sent off, presumably to get to the hot bath before the rest of his team mates.

A similar scoreline between Compostela and Salamanca, with protests from the home side players before the game against their club president for failing to pay them all season. Once the game started though they gave it their best shot, although they were frustrated against a solid defence who have the second best record in the league behind Murcia. The visitors came closest to scoring early on, with Tito saving after a Quique Martín corner and Vojvoda clearing off the line from Noguerol. The Gallicians improved after the break though, with Stelea saving well from Sequeiros and Maikel going close two or three times. The point enabled Compostela to stay clear of the relegation spots, although there could be problems next week as the players have threatened to strike on Friday if they are not paid. Salamanca recorded their fourth scoreless draw in a row, and they stay in sixth place heading a group of five teams on 25 points.

Xerez drop out of the title race after losing 1-0 at Eibar. The Basque side have a reputation for ultra-defensive play, but this time it was the visitors who put up the boards waiting for opportunities on the counterattack. Xerez keeper Mora was called upon a number of times in both halves to save the day stopping efforts from Xabi and Jorge Sánchez (no relation), Leníz and Kortina. However in the last minute substitute Miguel headed the ball into the net from close range to secure a valuable three points which keeps Blas Ziarreta's side out of the relegation zone.

Badajoz and Numancia both stay down in the bottom four after drawing 1-1 in their relegation battle. It was a lively game though, with Poli blocking a shot from Ojeda early on for the visitors, and Zé Tó hesitating too long when free in front of goal. The Portuguese forward didn't waste his second chance though, volleying home a cross from Marcos Mato shortly before half time. Visiting keeper Luis made a vital save from Rodri in the second half, but the visitors kept pegging away and got their reward when Rosu latched on to Ojeda's cross to beat Poli in injury time. (12.01.03)