|Second Division A - Day 18|
A low scoring start to the year in the second division, with only three goals in the first four games on Saturday evening. Leaders Numancia were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Getafe, and could lose their top spot to Levante, who play Cádiz on Sunday lunchtime. Both sides had scoring chances in the first half, with the visitors' top scorer Michel putting a free kick over the bar and new signing Pachón testing local keeper Luis García, and Pineda and Rosu going close at the other end. But when the home side lost their midfield general Pulido to an injury and then had Fagiani sent off near the end, both teams settled for a point. Getafe ended the day in fifth position pending Sunday's games, and have still only lost one game all season.
All the other matches on Saturday ended with single goal victories, with Sporting Gijon moving temporarily up to third place after beating struggling Tenerife 0-1. The Asturians dominated the early minutes, although the best chances fell to local forward Kiko Ratón before the break. Keko replaced the injured Martín Posse late in the first half and headed just over soon after the restart. But with a quarter of an hour to go Juan found Pablo Alvarez for him to volley the winning goal past Alvaro, and although Keko hit the bar in the dying minutes they held on for the three points. Tenerife have now not won in seven games, and manager David Amaral could be the next to go.
Eibar recorded their first home win in over two months, beating Almería 1-0 to move ahead of them in the table and up to seventh spot. The only goal of the game came on the half hour mark when Aitor got on the end of Brit's cross to head past Cano. Lozano could have equalised before the break with a shot just wide of the post, and Llorente responded with a similar effort in the second half. And when Luna's shot went wide near the end, Eibar were sure of a victory which sets them up for Wednesday night's cup tie with Real Madrid. This was Almería's first away defeat of the season, and they have now gone seven games since their last win.
Terrassa got their first home win in six months, a 1-0 victory over Córdoba thanks to a controversial goal late in the first half. Referee Pérez Lima awarded a 40th minute penalty to the home side for hand ball when in fact the player who handled was in fact local striker Maikel. Jauregui managed to save Maikel's kick, but David Gallego fired the ball in to the net on the rebound. Even so the visitors should have saved a point, but Morales saved from Pulpo González before the break and González and Fleurquín both missed chances late on. (03.01.04)
Levante moved to the top of the table after a 2-1 victory over promotion rivals Cádiz on Sunday lunchtime, their ninth game in a row without defeat. The Valencia based side had the better of the first half, and shortly after Armando kept out Alexis, Congo took advantage of a defensive mistake to round the keeper and score. Reggi added a second with a spectacular overhead kick midway through the second half, but Obiorah put the Andalucians back in the game ten minutes later when he got on the end of Dani's pass to score. The home side held on though for the three points which takes them one above Numancia, a good preparation for the midweek visit of Barcelona in their third round cup tie.
Alavés missed out on the chance to move up to the promotion spots when they were held to a 0-0 draw at Leganés. Local manager Carlos Aimar surprised everybody including five Spaniards in his side, a change from the all-Argentina teams he has been putting out since taking over in the summer. It was one of his South Americans Marini who had the best chance for his side before the break though, shooting over when free in front of goal, and keeper Raúl saved an effort from De Lucas at the other end. The locals had the better of the second half, with Enría wasting any easy chance, Gaspercic almost letting an Ochoa back pass into his own net and Txiki shooting just wide from a free kick, but in the end no goals again at the Butarque stadium and a point apiece.
The goals finally did start to flow though on Sunday evening, with Xerez and Las Palmas leading the charge in an extraordinary 4-4 draw, the home side fighting back after falling three goals behind in the first quarter of an hour. New manager David Vidal drafted Adrián Martín into his side, and he headed home a corner in the fifth minute. Rubén made it two from Carmelo's pass, and the league's top scorer returned the favour for his team mate to get a third soon afterwards. Xerez were level by half time though, Cachorro heading one back, Mena setting up Pendín for a second and Calle making it all square from the penalty spot. The visitors went back in front after the break when substitute Pedro Vega connected with Changui's cross, but Català headed a fourth from Cachorro's free kick a quarter of an hour from the end for save a point.
Xerez move out of the relegation zone thanks to a better goal difference over Rayo Vallecano, who threw away a one goal lead in the last five minutes and ended up losing 1-2 to Recreativo Huelva. Lady president Teresa Rivero returned to the club just eleven weeks after stepping down after receiving overwhelming support from (most of) the fans, and she watched her side take the lead midway through the first half through Biagini after good work from Luis Cembranos. Keepers Seguro and Toño kept the status quo until near to the end when the visitors scored twice in four minutes, Benítez heading the first from Oscar Arpón's cross and Toedtli taking advantage of a bad back pass by Mario to get the second. It was Rayo's sixth home defeat of the season, and Jorge D'Alessandro will have his work cut out if he is to get them back up the table.
Elche's new manager Oscar Ruggeri started off with a win, although his side struggled in the end to beat bottom club Algeciras 3-2. The visitors actually took the lead when Aitor took advantage of bad marking to beat Aizkorreta midway through the first half, but Curro Montaya made it all square after a short Zárate free kick on the half hour mark and Moisés latched on to Nino's pass to volley his side ahead two minutes later. Nino made it three himself after lobbing keeper Julio Iglesias a quarter of an hour from the end, and Moisés should have got a fourth soon afterwards. But a late strike by ex Elche forward Armentano set up a nail-biting finish.
The other two sides in the relegation zone also lost, Málaga B being beaten 3-1 by Ciudad de Murcia, who have clocked up three wins in a row since the club threatened to fire manager Juan Manuel Lillo. Turu Flores put his side on track for the victory with a goal from Güiza's pass in the tenth minute, only the second goal the ex Deportivo La Coruña striker has scored since joining the club in summer. He was on target again though eight minutes later to head home Aguilar's corner, restoring the lead after Koke had levelled the scores two minutes earlier. Visiting substitute Robi almost equalised again after the break when his shot hit the post, but Güiza wrapped things up from the penalty spot near the end after César Navas fouled Héctor Font in the area.
Poli Ejido also drop further down into the bottom four after losing 1-3 at home to Salamanca. The man who did all the damage was Raúl Sánchez, who scored a first half hat-trick against his old side thanks largely to poor defending. David Prats got on the end of a free kick to get a goal back soon after the restart, but Lupidio had a couple of chances to increase the visitors' lead later on. Salamanca ended the weekend back in the top half of the table. (04.01.04)