Second Division A - Day 21

Elche kept up their impressive home record this season with a 3-2 win over Valladolid on Saturday evening, a result which ensures they stay in third place for another week at least. The visitors were on a high after knocking Real Madrid out of the cup midweek, and Aduriz hit the woodwork before Víctor headed his side in front on the half hour mark. However Torres Gómez was sent off on the stroke of half time for giving away a penalty on Nino, and Moisés levelled the scores with the resulting spot kick. It took another half hour though before substitute Raúl Ivars put the locals in front, but soon afterwards Jonathan turned Ismael's cross into his own net to increase the lead. Elche too were left with ten men though when Moisés picked up a second booking, and Alvaro beat Unanua five minutes from the end to set up an exciting finish.

Yosu Uribe's side stay ahead of Eibar on goal difference after the Basque side beat Racing Ferrol 0-1 thanks to a last minute strike from Kike Mateo. Neither side were capable of shooting on target in the first forty five minutes, but the locals pressured Iraizoz twice after the restart, Juanito shooting just wide and Granon forcing a finger tip save out of the keeper. David Silva hit the bar though at the other end a few minutes later, and Varela set up Mateo in injury time to hand the Galicians their first defeat in six matches.

Recreativo Huelva are not out of the promotion chase though, and they won 1-0 against a Gimnastic Tarragona side who had gone the ten previous games without a loss. The Catalans had most of the play early on, with Alfonso heading wide in the opening minutes. But Manu del Moral got what was to be the only goal of the match in the eighteenth minute, beating Valencia with a shot from outside of the area. After that the visitors tried their best, with Pinilla shooting against the bar and Alfonso putting another chance wide. But when Marco was sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half their challenge ended.

Bottom club Córdoba continued their revival after their new look side beat Tenerife 2-0, their second victory in a row since signing ten new players in the winter transfer market. Eight of those players were in the starting line up, and one of them, ex Racing Santander full back Cristian Alvarez, gave them the lead on the quarter hour mark with a wide free kick which caught out Keleman, who was expecting a cross. The visitors were limited to a couple of long shots from Moya and Gavilán after the break, and Bilic wrapped things up with a second goal right at the end. (22.01.05)

Leaders Cádiz were defeated 0-1 by local rivals Xerez on Sunday lunchtime, a best possible beginning for the visitors' new manager Enrique Martín, who took over after Paco Chaparro was sacked earlier in the week. The locals were under attack right from the start, Pendín, Mena and Mendoza all testing Armando, and Del Pino eventually got the goal Xerez deserved on the hour mark after Lekic's effort was only partly cleared. Oli hit the post at the other end and substitute Mirosavljevic (popularly known by the local fans as Mortadelo) missed another chance in the dying minutes. Martín wasn't there to see his side's victory though as he was sent off by the referee for protesting.

Alavés were the winners of the weekend though, beating Sporting Gijón 1-2 on Sunday evening to take advantage of the surprise defeat of Cádiz and move to the top of the second division at the midway point of the season, thereby earning themselves the honorary title of winter champions. Dmitri Piterman's team took the lead in the thirteenth minute when a mistake by Chus Bravo let in Rubén Navarro to score, but the Asturians were level by the break when Ismael poked the ball past Bonano on the stroke of half time. Neru went close with a header and Samuel hit the bar with a free kick as the locals pressed for the winner, but they were caught out on a quick counter attack which De Lucas finished off with twenty minutes to go. Sporting could still have saved a point when Brazilian striker Arthuro hit the post in the last minute of injury time, but it was not to be.

Celta lost ground on the top three though after they were held 0-0 at home by Lleida, and they have now dropped sixteen points at the Balaidos stadium this season. It was not for lack of trying however, visiting keeper Rangel making a string of first class saves, including stops from Vryzas and Jonathan within a minute of each other midway through the first half. Gustavo López fired a shot just wide of the post with the keeper beaten a few minutes later, and rattled the woodwork with another effort just a few minutes after the restart. The Galicians gradually ran out of ideas though, and Miguel Rubio's side held on for a vital point.

A scoreless draw too in the match between Real Murcia and Almería, a result which keeps the home side down in the relegation spots, three points away from safety. It was a disappointing performance from Mario Husillos's side, and they were lucky not to be behind by the break after Sietes cleared an effort from Ortíz away from goal and Juanmi saved an Adorno header. Richi, Pulido and Karanka all tried their luck either side of half time for the hosts, but the best chances after the break fell once again to the visitors, Adorno in particular failing to find the target with the goal at his mercy near the end. The small local crowd booed off their players at the end.

Almería and Murcia's respective neighbours Poli Ejido and Ciudad Murcia also shared the points after their match on Sunday evening ended 2-2. The visitors took an early lead when Cuevas picked up a pass from Güiza to beat Kike. After that though they sat back, and Pedro Vega had three or four chances to equalise, including one shot against the bar, before Calado levelled the scores with a free kick which went past everybody. Toedtli headed the locals in front ten minutes in to the second half, but Ciudad were awarded a penalty later on when Urbano brought down an opponent. Kike saved Aguilar's twice taken kick both times, but on the second occasion Gibanel followed up to drive home the ball and save a point for his side. Local striker Vucko was shown a second yellow card a few minutes later, but after he had already been substituted.

Elsewhere Salamanca move away from the drop zone after a 2-0 win over struggling Pontevedra, a result which probably saves the job of local manager Felipe Miñambres but which could cost visiting coach José Aurelio Gay his. The first real chance of the game fell to Changui on the half hour mark, his effort being saved by Jon Ander, but only a couple of minutes later Gorka Brit put the locals ahead after connecting with Zé Tó's cross to beat Moso. Tomás added a second after a good team move in the second half, and after Canabal struck the bar at the other end in the last minute it was all over. (23.01.05)

Málaga B drew 0-0 with Terrassa on Monday night, not the best of starts for new manager José Marí Bakero, who took over at the South coast side a few days ago after coach Antonio Tapia was promoted to the first team. The game was actually put back a day as Tapia's side were playing at the Rosaleda stadium the day before, but unlike them they were unable to win. Neither side created problems for the opposing keeper, the only real shot anywhere near the target in the first half coming from local striker Geijo, who shot over the bar close to half time. Paco Esteban wasted another chance late on when alone in front of the keeper, and David Charcos could have won it for the Catalans when Goitia saved his shot in injury time. (24.01.05)