Second Division A - Day 19

There were four games on Saturday evening, all of which ended in draws. Leaders Zaragoza drew 0-0 at fourth placed Albacete to ensure top spot for another week at least, even though the match was a real sleeper. Paco Flores has taught his side to compete in a hard and unyielding league, based on a tight defence which gives nothing away at the back, and other than a penalty appeal for a possible foul on Jesús Perera and speculative shots from Basti either side of half time there was no real danger for Lainez. Soriano had the best chance for the visitors after the break when he headed into Roa's hands, but when new signing Galca was sent off five minutes from the end Zaragoza settled for a point.

A scoreless game as well between Las Palmas and Numancia, a result which was not much use for either side in their differing objectives, the home side to get back into the fight for promotion and the visitors to climb out of the relegation spots. Alvaro went close for the Canary Islanders with headers at the beginning and end of the game, but otherwise Máximo Hernández's side were on top, with Anderson saving well from Ojeda and Miguel Angel Nuñez, and Ojeda heading against the bar later in the second half.

All square too in the game between Xerez and Terrassa, with the visitors taking the lead twice and Bernd Schuster's side pulling them back both times. Monty put the Catalans in front in the fourth minute from Babangida's pass, but five minutes later Dani Pendín got on the end of Mena's centre to head the equaliser. Babangida hit the bar though before Juan Carlos converted Monty's cross to restore the lead before the break, but Calle made it all square again two minutes after the restart, heading past Morales after good work by Cachorro. Terrassa's Héctor was sent off for a second bookable offence at the end. Both sides ended the weekend on 26 points in the top half of the table.

Poli Ejido are in ninth place, just behind Terrassa and Xerez on goal average, after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Getafe. The home side were hopeful of recording their first home win in three months against a team who had lost three in a row, but they were caught out by a long Craioveanu free kick on the half hour mark. The Romanian striker went close to increasing the lead before a shot through a crowded goalmouth from Poschner made it all square, but after Ejido's Urbano was sent off, Vivar Dorado almost won the game for the Madrid based side. The draw was not enough to save the head of their manager Felines though, and with the club dropping in to bottom four he was fired the day after the match, with Pepe Mel tipped to take his place. (18.01.03)

Murcia followed up their midweek cup success with a 2-0 win over Tenerife on Sunday noontime which consolidates their second position in the league. Both goals came within the first half hour of the match, Ismael lobbing the ball back into the net in the fourth minute after Valerio could only fist out Tito's free kick, and Tito himself getting the second after the keeper blocked Juanma's shot. The Canary Islanders hardly approached Reinke's goal all match, and Murcia slowed the game down in the end with one eye on next Wednesday's cup quarter final with Deportivo. The defeat leaves Tenerife only one point above the drop zone, and manager Ewald Lienen was fired the following day as a result.

An incredible score on Sunday lunchtime at Leganés in an otherwise low scoring weekend, where the home side beat Almería 5-2. Fans at the Butarque stadium couldn't believe their eyes when their side took a three goal lead midway through the first half with strikes from Fede Marín, Miguel Angel and Lambea. However the visitors pulled one back with a Cervián header before the break, and Francisco closed the gap to one goal in the second half after he was brought down in the penalty area and converted the resulting spot kick. Leganés scored two more though through Fede Bahón and Calandria in the last ten minutes to move away from the bottom spots.

Levante stay in third place after beating Racing Ferrol 1-0 on Sunday evening, and only one point now separates the top three clubs. The Valencia based side recorded their first home win in two months thanks to a Jofre goal early in the second half after Mijatovic and Limones had combined to set him up. The Gallicians had wasted two or three chances at the beginning of the game, and Amato had failed to beat Bello Amigo later in the first half before Levante's goal. Local keeper Rafa just managed to tip away a Cuéllar effort which would have meant an equaliser, but the defence held firm and the home side held on despite playing the last five minutes with ten men after Descarga was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Badajoz surprisingly won 0-1 at Elche, their first victory under new manager Zurdo López. The home side had not lost in seven matches since Ferrol beat them in the Martínez Valero stadium, and they should have taken the lead when Raúl Ivars shot wide twice before half time and Nino headed against the post after the interval. But they were caught out when Zé Tó sprinted away to score on the hour mark, and the visitors could have gone further ahead when Rodri failed to beat Aizkorreta, who was replacing Toni in the local goal.

Sporting Gijon moved up in to the top half of the table after defeating Eibar 1-0 on Sunday evening. It was a hard game with few scoring chances, both sides resorting in the end to long balls into the penalty area to try and bypass the defensive walls. The only goal came three minutes in to the second half when Christian Díaz headed home a cross from David Bauzá, but apart from a penalty appeal at either end there was little activity in the penalty areas. Eibar ended with ten men after Xabi picked up a second yellow card near the end. The result comes as a welcome relief for the Asturian club, who were linked with illegal activities in a television programme last week.

Salamanca recorded their fifth 0-0 draw in a row, this time at home to bottom club Oviedo. Jorge D'Alessandro's side a breaking records both positive and negative, and keeper Stelea has now gone seven games since he last let in a goal. He was lucky this time though, the referee disallowing an Oli strike in the second half for a dubious offside, and the same player hitting the bar in another play which was stopped by the official. Local substitute Robert missed the best chance though when he shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy near the end.

The game between Córdoba and Compostela also ended 0-0, a result which signalled the end for local manager Iosu Ortuondo who became the fourth manager to lose his job in 48 hours in Spain's top two divisions. The match only took place because the visiting players called off their proposed strike after getting paid a month's back wages by local authorities and businessmen, a fact which upset controversial president José María Caneda. Even with Moisés leading the attack the Andalucians couldn't score, and their keeper Jauregui was called upon to save the day more than once. The agony for the fans was prolonged an extra fifteen minutes after floodlights failed as the match was coming to an end. (19.01.03)