|Second Division A - Day 26|
Numancia consolidated their third spot in the league with a 0-1 win at Xerez on Saturday evening, their second victory in a row after a long run without success. The home side continue to have financial problems, and the players came out wearing T-shirts reading "paga ya", a cry to club president Gil Salgado to pay them the back wages they are owed. They put their problems behind them on the pitch though, and only good saves by ex Xerez keeper Luis García from Calle and Mena kept the scores level. The visitors though went in front when another ex Xerez player Antonio headed home Kome's corner shortly before half time, and after that the Soria based side pulled back again to defend their lead.
Eibar lost ground on the leading group after they were beaten 1-0 by a Las Palmas side who move up safely to midtable after their third win in four games. The visitors started well, but were pushed back later in the first half and Angel Sánchez and Momo both went close and Riesgo saved well from Changui. Seven minutes in to the second half though, Changui picked up a pass from Momo to score the only goal of the game. Sessa kept out an effort from Saizar and Karmona headed just wide as the Basques tried for the equaliser, but the Canary Islanders held on for three more much needed points.
A 1-0 scoreline as well between Recreativo and Almería, where a late Raúl Molina goal saved the locals from their fifth draw in a row. The Huelva based side had been the better team in the first half, with Uche, Molina and Benítez all testing Valerio, but they could not get past a well ordered defence. The closest the visitors ever came to scoring though was when Iker Begoña almost headed into his own net, and Molina ran on to a long Viqueira pass to lob the keeper twenty minutes from the end. Almería have now gone 15 games without a win, and they ended the weekend only a point away from the bottom four.
Salamanca and Tenerife drew 2-2 in an exciting match in which the lead changed hands twice. The visitors took the early initiative, and only some excellent goalkeeping from Stelea kept out Vázquez and Raúl Martín. However it was the locals who took the lead before the break when Raúl Sánchez got on the end of José's pass to score. César Belli headed an equaliser after the break from Manolo's corner and Keko put his side in front after good work by debutant La Paglia. But Raúl Sánchez popped up a minute later to square the match with his thirteenth goal of the season. Salamanca's Noguerol was sent off in injury time.
Elche held on for half an hour with ten men to take a 1-1 draw away from Terrassa The home side had taken the lead in the twentieth minute when Méndez lobbed keeper Dani Mallo, but the visitors fought back with Moisés hitting the post soon afterwards. A few minutes before half time Moisés levelled the scores with a much disputed penalty after Rubén brought down the striker in the penalty area, and the Catalans were on the back foot until Dani Tortelero was sent off for a second bookable offence after the break. Dani Mallo and his defence kept out Maikel and company for the rest of the game to ensure a point. (28.02.04)
Second placed Levante were held to a 0-0 draw by Ciudad Murcia on Sunday lunchtime, and are now only two points ahead of Numancia. The Valencia based side were unable to score from the countless chances they created throughout the match, with Aganzo in particular missing a hatful and also having a goal ruled out for a positional offside close to half time. Cuéllar, Jofre and substitute Sérvulo also wasted opportunities in both halves, and the visitors only went close in a short period late in the first half, when Camuñas and Falcón both put efforts wide of Mora's goal. However they almost stole away the three points when Lerinc hit the post late on.
Sporting Gijon stay three points clear at the top of the table despite a 4-1 defeat at Córdoba on Sunday evening. Nico Olivera's penalty on the quarter hour mark after Samuel stopped Villa's shot with his hands ended keeper Roberto's 830 minute run without letting in a goal, and to make matters worse the Asturian captain was sent off for the foul. Sporting were awarded a penalty themselves two minutes later after Juanmi brought down Pablo Alvarez, but Bilic's kick was saved by Jauregui, the fifth he has kept out this season. Bilic made up for his miss by equalising ten minutes before the break, but Montenegro restored the lead after the restart with a long free kick which Roberto misread, and the visitors were left with nine men after Cristian Díaz picked up a second booking soon afterwards. After that the Andalucians over-ran their opponents, and Olivera and Pulpo González added two more in the closing minutes to take their side up into the top half of the table.
Rayo Vallecano climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Cádiz, their second win in a row under new manager Txetxu Rojo. The Madrid based side were unlucky not to fall behind early on though, with Pavoni heading over the bar and Saja saving from Ibán Espadas. But Biagini ran on to a long ball to score the opening goal against the run of play five minutes before the break, and Mario set up Azkoitia with a 60 yard run for him to make it two on the stroke of half time. The visitors started strongly again at the beginning of the second half, but they were left with ten men when Pavoni was sent off for a second yellow card and Rayo could have increased their lead had their forwards been more astute towards the end of the game.
Rayo's place in the bottom four was taken by Leganés, who lost 2-1 at Poli Ejido. The home side had won their last two games and got off to a confident start, with Sabino hitting a post in the third minute and Barkero going close soon afterwards. The two combined a quarter of an hour later for Sabino to head home Barkero's cross for the opening goal, and Calado and Agostinho could have added to the lead later in the half. Mustafá headed an equaliser from Txiki's pass before the break, but Poli kept up the pressure in the second half and got their reward when Calado converted a penalty after Sabino had been brought down in the area.
The bottom two, Algeciras and Málaga B, did themselves no favours with a 0-0 draw. The locals dominated the first half, with Armentano shooting wide early on and hitting a post later in the half, and Chico heading just past the post shortly before the break. The best chance of the match though came when the home side were awarded a penalty after a defender handled in the area, but Goitia saved Armentano's first kick and the striker put a second effort wide after the referee ordered it to be retaken. The result leaves Algeciras six points adrift at the bottom of the table.
And talking of a drift, there were lots in Vitoria at the weekend as heavy snow fell in the North of Spain, causing the postponement of the game between fourth and fifth placed sides Alavés and Getafe. No date has been set as yet for the fixture to take place. (29.02.04)
The match between Alavés and Getafe was finally rescheduled for Wednesday 24th March, with the two sides situated in fifth and fourth place in the league respectively. The Vitoria based side had incorporated Martín Palermo into their squad a few days earlier thanks to the long term injury to Iván Alonso, and he started things off heading his first goal for his new club midway through the first half. The locals could have increased their lead early in the second half, Sergio Sánchez saving well from Palermo and De Lucas wasting an easy chance. But visiting defender Amaya got himself sent off after picking up a second booking for arguing, and Rubén Navarro and Magno took advantage to add two more late on to take their side above their opponents in the table. (24.03.04)