Second Division A - Day 17

The top three all won their respective matches on Saturday night to throw down a challenge to the chasing pack. Leaders Numancia won 0-2 against struggling Málaga B, their first away win in almost two months. It took a couple of good saves from keeper Luis though to keep out the home side forwards, particularly from Koke early on and from substitute Paco Esteban after the break. The Soria based side went in front four minutes before half time when Pulido followed up from the edge of the area after keeper Lara blocked an effort from Camerooni international N'Kome, and N'Kome himself got the second five minutes from the end of the match from Moreno's corner. The defeat leaves Málaga B down in next to bottom spot having now gone five games without a win.

Second placed Levante followed up their cup win against Mallorca with a 1-2 victory at Las Palmas. David Vidal was in charge of the Canary Island side for the first time after Juan Manuel Rodríguez was sacked last weekend, and for a few minutes his side showed promise, with Rubén and José Antonio both going close. But Aganzo struck a warning shot against the crossbar, and six minutes before half time he went one better to open the scoring after a mistake by the defence. Rubén wasted a chance to make it all square when he shot over from a couple of yards out, and the visitors wrapped things up after the break when Aridani turned Congo's cross past his own keeper. Rubén did eventually get a late consolation from the penalty spot, but by then it was too late.

Meanwhile third placed Cádiz were making mincemeat of Las Palmas neighbours Tenerife, eventually running out 4-1 victors after Oli scored a first half hat-trick. The Andalucians had wanted to call the game off because of an outbreak of flu, but were turned down by the Spanish Football Federation and had to play with a makeshift side. They got off to a good start though with Oli taking advantage of poor defending to score twice in the first twenty minutes, and even though substitute Kiko Ratón missed a sitter only two minutes after coming on, Oli put his side three up before the break. The ex Betis and Oviedo striker then set up a fourth for Abraham Paz five minutes after the restart, and Kiko Ratón's last minute strike was poor consolation for the Canary Islanders.

Terrassa crept out of the bottom four pending Sunday's games after coming from behind to beat Recreativo Huelva 1-2. The Andalucians are the oldest club in Spain, and their 114th anniversary celebrations appeared to be well under way when Iker Begoña headed home Pernía's free kick in the fourth minute. But they were reduced to ten men on the half hour mark when Camacho received a much protested second yellow card, and only a minute after Toedtli rounded the keeper but rolled the ball just wide, the visitors equalised after a miskick from an attacker fell to Recio for him to shoot wide of Toño. Maikel headed the winner for the Catalans from Héctor's cross a quarter of an hour from the end, and they held on to move level on points with their opponents even though Begoña hit the post in the dying minutes. (20.12.03)

Two second half goals from Michel gave Getafe a 3-1 win over neighbours Leganés in their Sunday lunchtime derby game. The ex Rayo Vallecano striker had a goal disallowed early on for a previous foul, and shortly afterwards the visitors took the lead when Txiki beat Aragoneses after good work by Pablo Rodríguez. The home side equalised though with a crashing shot from Mario Cotelo which went in off the underside of the crossbar ten minutes before the break, and Michel added two more after the restart, the first from Craioveanu's pass and the second from the penalty spot, his tenth goal of the season. Getafe move up to fourth pending the evening games, and Leganés drop into the bottom half of the table, their epic midweek game against Real Madrid in the cup already a fading memory. (21.12.03)

Two goals from Iván Alonso helped Alavés come from behind to beat managerless Elche 2-1 and move up to fourth spot, a point behind Cádiz. The Vitoria based side appeared to be in trouble when Téllez was sent off for a second bookable offence only fifteen minutes in to the game, and Toro Acuña put the visitors ahead three minutes later following a short free kick. But Sietes hit the bar and Dani Mallo had to save from Rubén Navarro as the home side threw caution to the winds, and numbers were evened up shortly before half time when Toro Acuña was also sent off for a second booking. Iván Alonso got on the end of Astudillo's cross to level the scores early in the second half and latched on to Navarro's pass to strike the winner a few minutes later, and De Lucas should have made it three before the end when he failed to beat Dani Mallo when free in front of goal. Alavés finished with nine men when Turiel got a second yellow card in injury time, but it was too late for Elche to react. They ended the weekend down in tenth place, and new manager Oscar Ruggieri (who was appointed after this match) will have his work cut out if he is to achieve the club's objective of finishing in the top three.

Sporting Gijon finished the year in fifth spot after winning 1-0 against one of their promotion rivals, Eibar. Both sides started the game level on 25 points, only two away from the top three, but the home side came out winners thanks to a strike by Miguel, who headed home Bauzá's cross on the half hour mark. The visitors had gone close through Cuevas and Brit before the goal, but afterwards the Asturians shut up shop and the Basque side hardly had a shot on target throughout the second half. It was a fifth home win in a row for Marcelino's side, although the manager wasn't there at the end to celebrate with his players as he was sent off for protesting near the end.

Almería dropped down three places to seventh after they lost 2-3 to Ciudad de Murcia. After a string of poor results and being knocked out of the cup midweek, visiting manager Juan Manuel Lillo was not expected to survive another defeat. But despite missing several key players with flu, his side took the lead when Edu Serrano got on the end of a Camuñas cross to score, and Aguilar could have made it two with a free kick which hit the post. Francisco also hit the woodwork at the other end though before the break, and a minute after the restart he took his side level when he connected with Luna's through ball to beat Tete. Güiza scored twice though later in the half to restore the lead, and although Francisco pulled one back for the hosts from the penalty spot after Labaka handled in the area, they were already beaten. Both sides ended with ten men after César and Camuñas were sent off for fighting.

Down at the bottom of the table, Poli Ejido found themselves in the relegation zone once again after they lost 1-0 to Córdoba. Visiting manager Julián Rubio put out a defensive side, and they absorbed the pressure form their Andalucian rivals throughout the first half. Crister George could have put the locals ahead when he shot straight at Kike after the break, but Pablo Sierra eventually beat the ex Alavés keeper with a shot from the edge of the area after Platero set him up. The result takes Córdoba back up to the top half of the table, and leaves Ejido third from bottom, last of a group of five sides level on seventeen points.

Xerez are one of those sides, and they move above Poli Ejido on goal difference after drawing 2-2 at Salamanca. Calle put them ahead in only the second minute, although the lead only lasted ten minutes or so before Aurelio headed home Gañan's free kick for the equaliser. The home side went ahead five minutes later when Joeano finished off after Escoda's good run ended with a mis-hit shot, and Lupido hit the bar for the locals a few minutes later. But Calle headed the equaliser before the half time interval, and when Salamanca were reduced to ten men after Noguerol was booked for the second time after the restart, both sides settled for a draw.

Curiously, Terrassa's win the day before means that all four teams in the relegation zone are from Andalucia, including two of the four teams promoted from the region last summer, Málaga B and Algeciras. The South coast side stay at the bottom of the pile after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Rayo Vallecano, the point taking the visitors just above the drop zone. The home side started strongly, with Segura having to save from a Jorge Zafra free kick early on, and Dani gave them the lead with a powerful shot from thirty metres or so which left the keeper with no chance. But a much protested penalty on Biaggini allowed Peragón to level the scores before the break, taking Jorge D'Alessandro's side up to fifteenth place. (21.12.03)