Second Division A - Day 16

Levante moved up level with leaders Numancia pending their game on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Salamanca. Manolo Preciado's side had most of the play early on, with Reggi testing Stelea from a header, and they took the lead when the Romanian keeper fouled Congo in the area, Jofre converting the resulting penalty. Salamanca came back in the second half though, and José levelled the scores on a quick counterattack. But Congo headed against the post a few minutes later, and rounded off a good night with the winning goal a quarter of an hour from the end. The main point of attraction for the local fans though was the presence of Ronaldo's estranged wife Milene, who watched the game from the directors' box and left with the man who reportedly is occupying her affections right now, Levante striker Aganzo.

The most interesting game on Saturday evening though was undoubtedly that between Alavés and Rayo Vallecano, the club that Milene still plays for. Last season this was a first division fixture, but both are not doing as well as expected this year and needed a win. In the end though the three points went to the visitors, but only thanks to a controversial goal late in the second half when Quique De Lucas controlled the ball with his hand on the blind side of the referee before beating Segura. Iván Alonso had given the Basque side the lead in the tenth minute, finishing off after Astudillo headed on a free kick, but Bolo made it all square on the stroke of half time when he headed home a corner. Pulido could have saved a point for the Madrid based side in injury time, but he shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

The result took Alavés up, for 24 hours at least, to fourth spot, just behind Cádiz, who came away from Las Palmas with a 0-2 win. The first half of the game was very dull, and neither side had a scoring opportunity before Momo shot wide soon after the restart. Obiorah had a goal disallowed a few minutes later, but finally got his name on the scoresheet four minutes from the end when he beat Orlando with a header. Dani Navarrete added a second in injury time to seal the win and cause the downfall of Las Palmas manager Juan Manuel Rodríguez, who became the ninth manager to be fired in the second division this season only hours after the game ended. Ex Murcia manager David Vidal is apparently favourite to replace him.

The other three matches played on Saturday evening all ended in 0-0 draws. Tenerife came away from Eibar with their tenth draw of the season, depriving their opponents of a possible overnight place in the promotion spots. There was action at both ends, Julio Hormiga testing local keeper Basauri early on, Cuevas doing likewise with Alvaro at the other end and Brit failing to find the target for the locals before the interval. Tenerife's Corona headed just over and Keko brought a good save out of the local keeper in the second half, but Alvaro made three important saves himself near the end to earn his side another point.

Xerez and Córdoba both cancelled each other out in their Andalucian derby match, and had to settle for a point each which didn't help either side. The locals had the best chances, especially through Jurado and Mena either side of half time, but the visitors could have also won it on quick breakaways, George heading one wide and Pulpo González failing to find the target a couple of times when well placed. Xerez ended the game with ten men when Dani Pendín was shown a red card in injury time for pushing an opponent.

The relegation battle between Terrassa and Algeciras also ended 0-0, leaving the Catalans without a home win all season and the Andalucians still down in bottom spot. It was typical battle between two sides in trouble, the only shots in the first half coming from Monty for the locals and Keita for the visitors. The home side had two penalty appeals turned down before the referee finally awarded one midway through the second half when Espejo fouled Rubén. However Iñaki saved Juan Carlos's spot kick, and recovered quickly to turn Molist's follow up shot over the bar. (13.12.03)

The goalless draws continued on Sunday morning, with leaders Numancia being held 0-0 by Almería in their televised match. Here too there was a saved penalty, visiting keeper Cano stopping Fagiani's kick shortly before half time after Lozano (presumably) handled in the area. The home side were left with ten men though before the break when Jaime Molina picked up a second booking, but even so the Andalucians were unable to take advantage and Fagiani and Velasco both came close to winning it for the hosts later on. Numancia move a point clear of Levante at the top of the table, and Almería keep up their push for promotion, still the only undefeated side away from home in the league.

Leganés followed up their away win last week at Almería with a first home victory of the season in their Butargue stadium, coming from behind to beat struggling Málaga B 2-1. The Madrid based side were a goal down as early as the third minute when Koke beat Leyenda from the penalty spot after Alessandria handled in the area, and it could have been two if Paco Esteban had not missed a good chance later on. But Marini headed the equaliser on the stroke of half time from a Pablo Rodríguez free kick, and then had a hand in the winning goal after the break, sending Txiki away down the wing for him to find the head of Borja.

Last week's third placed side Sporting Gijon drop out of the promotion spots after losing 3-2 to Ciudad de Murcia on Sunday evening. The Asturians took the lead through Bilic on the half hour mark and the Croatian striker missed a chance to put his side further ahead before the break. But Aguilar scrambled an equaliser after the break, and then set up Camuñas for him to put the home side ahead a few minutes later. Godino made it three five minutes from the end, and although Ismael headed one back in the final minutes it was too late to get back in the match. This was Ciudad's first win in seven games, and the result saves the head of coach Juan Manuel Lillo for the time being.

Another manager didn't make it past this weekend though, Elche's Carlos García Cantarero becoming the ninth to be sacked this season after his side could only draw 1-1 with Getafe. It was a dull match, with the only goal attempt in the first half coming from local striker Moisés, his header from Zárate's free kick being turned for a corner by Aragoneses. Alberto put the visitors in front on a quick breakaway twenty minutes in to the second half, and although the locals were down to ten men after Benja was sent off, they saved a point in the last minute from a García Granero free kick. It was not enough to save Cantarero though, and 24 hours later he was packing his suitcase.

Poli Ejido moved out of the relegation spots to the detriment of Xerez with a 2-0 win over Andalucian rivals Recreativo. Either side could have scored towards the end of the first half, but the locals took the lead four minutes in to the restart when Angel Rodríguez beat Toño with a well struck free kick. Sabino added a second near the end with a lob over the keeper to take his side level on points with their opponents and also with Las Palmas and Rayo Vallecano, just one point above the drop zone. (14.12.03)