Second Division A - Day 24

Cádiz extended their lead at the top of the second division to four points pending Sunday's games after beating Almería 2-1 on Saturday evening. Although the first chance fell to the locals, Valerio keeping out, Oli, the visitors were the better side early on. Sahnoun crashed a long shot against the bar with Armando beaten, and soon afterwards the French midfielder put his side ahead with a well struck free kick. Valerio saved a De la Cuesta header before the break, but Víctor Espárrago was not happy with his side's performance and made two changes at the break. And the move worked when Abraham Paz headed an equaliser soon after the restart, and then Oli fired home what was to prove the winner just three minutes later after good work by one of the substitutes Enrique. Even so there were a few nervous moments, in particular when Luna failed to beat Armando with a late header, before the referee blew the final whistle.

The Andalusians are now four points ahead of second placed Alavés after Dmitri Piterman's side lost 1-0 at Tenerife. The Canary Islanders were in need of a win after some recent bad results left them floundering in the bottom half of the table, and Keko hit the post after Hidalgo set him up early on. Local keeper Alvaro Iglesias did well to keep out De Lucas on the stroke of half time, but Oscar Alvarez struck the winner on the hour mark after the defence only partly cleared a corner. Chuchi Cos threw on all the strike force he had, and Téllez headed just over the bar in the dying moments. It was not to be though, and the Vitoria based side could be out of the top three at the end of the weekend after their third defeat in a row.

Eibar moved back up to second in the table after beating Salamanca at mid-day on Sunday. The Basque side went ahead after the referee awarded them a dubious penalty midway through the first half for a foul by Aurelio on Llorente which the striker himself converted. Iraizoz had to keep out an effort from Jaime at the other end a couple of minutes later, but under 21 international David Silva added a second for a the visitors seven minutes after the restart. Ruano and Brit could both have pulled one back for the home side, but Llorente almost extended the lead when he hit the bar. In the end Zé Tó did score an injury time consolation for the locals when he chipped the keeper, but it was not enough to prevent them from sinking to the verge of the relegation spots.

José Marí Bakero's Málaga B also kicked off on Sunday lunchtime and they recorded their first win in five games, beating Lleida 1-0. The only goal came twenty minutes in to the first half when Rangel turned Abel's free kick on to the bar, Roberto Carlos stabbing the ball home on the rebound. Esteban, Baraja and Geijo all had opportunities to add to the lead before the break, but the best chance of all fell to Abel, who fired a second half penalty against the post after Pelegri fouled Geijo. The Catalans didn't have a real shot at goal until Sergio tested Goitia late on, and Fininho could have got a second for the locals when he hit the bar in the dying minutes.

A goal by Canobbio from a last minute free kick was enough to give Celta a 1-0 win over Sporting Gijón on Sunday evening, taking them a point above Alavés and back up to the promotion spots for the first time since the start of the season. The Galicians had the better of the first half, but they were unable to break down a well ordered defence, and only a couple of efforts from Sava caused any problems for Roberto in the visitors' goal. The second half continued in the same vein, although Pinto had to be at his best to keep out a shot from Dorado on a quick breakaway. But Canobbio gave a first warning with a strike which Roberto just managed to keep out, and with the game heading for a draw, the Argentine midfielder finally beat him with a well struck free kick to make it three wins in a row since the turn of the season.

It is still remarkably tight at the top though, with two other teams drawing level with the Vitoria based side, including Elche, who beat struggling Pontevedra 2-0. The locals took the lead in the seventh minute with a shot on the turn from the edge of the area by Nino, and Moisés latched on to a loose ball after Nino's effort was blocked to add a second just two minutes later. It looked as if it was going to be big scoreline when the home side were awarded a penalty on the quarter hour mark after Luis Gil was fouled in the area, but Moisés missed the spot kick. And soon afterwards the striker got the ball in the net only to see it ruled out for a previous foul. After that though things settled down, the only danger coming when Unai cleared after Unanua spilled a Yobo free kick for the visitors, and Valdermarín set up Luis Gil for him to head wide after the break.

Valladolid are also level with Alavés and Elche after they won 2-1 against another side who are in the relegation spots, Ciudad Murcia. The visitors could have taken the lead though early on when Cuevas missed an open goal, but Bautista and Córdoba kept out efforts from Robles and Mateo at the other end a few minutes later, and on the half hour mark Mateo opened the scoring with a free kick which bounced down off the crossbar just over the line. Six minutes later the central defender got his second of the night after the defence failed to clear Sousa's cross, but Luciano took advantage of a hesitant defence to pull one back before the half time whistle. And the away side could have saved a point had Bizzarri not been at his best after the restart, in particular turning a dangerous shot from Güiza away for a corner.

Curiously all three have a positive goal difference of ten, as do Recreativo, who stay just two points behind the trio after coming from behind to win 1-3 win at Real Murcia. The locals were in need of points to take them away from the relegation zone, and they started well, with Iván Alonso having a goal disallowed for offside and then giving his team the lead beating Luque with a shot on the turn. Visiting manager Quique Hernández brought on Benítez and Azkorra at the break and within five minutes they were level, Uche picking up a pass from Manu Del Moral to score past Juanmi. And Uche was to prove the star of the night, the Nigerian forward setting up Benítez for him to get a second and then adding a third himself from Benítez's cross.

Xerez though lost a bit of ground on the other promotion candidates after a 0-0 draw at Poli Ejido, although they themselves are only five points off the top three. The home side set off at a frantic pace, with Tete having to save from Pedro Vega, Víctor Salas and Toedtli in the first twenty minutes, and the visiting keeper was also in action again either side of half time to keep out efforts from Jacobo and Paco García. Del Pino brought a good stop out of Kike at the other end soon after the restart when he got on the end of Cachorro's free kick, and Mena shot wide a few minutes later after Mendoza set him up. Both sides had chances again after that, but they came to nothing and in the end they had to settle for a point each.

Another strange result involving Racing Ferrol who, after scoring six away from home last week, found themselves on the end of a 1-4 drubbing by Gimnastic Tarragona. It looked as if the Galicians were on for another win though as they dominated the first half, Jaoio and Carlos both going close before David Franch got on the end of a Curro Vacas free kick to put them ahead. De Palmas had to clear off the line from Diego Torres on the stroke of half time though, and on the hour mark Pinilla made it all square when he headed on Iván Ania's free kick. And Anía was to be the match winner, chipping Bello Amigo ten minutes later to put his side ahead, and setting up Serrano and then Bolo with two late corners for them to head past the keeper. It was fitting revenge for Racing's ex coach Luis César, now in charge of the Catalan side.

Córdoba moved off the bottom of the table to the detriment of Pontevedra after coming from a goal down to beat Terrassa 2-1. The visitors had the better of the first half though, Cazarine putting two efforts wide before finally beating Saja with a header shortly before the break. However Morales had to keep out Ruano and Bilic after the restart before Bilic got on the end of a Cristian Alvarez cross to turn the ball past the keeper. And with a draw on the cards, Txiki latched on to a loose ball to score the winner in injury time. The result leaves the Catalans down in seventeenth spot, albeit five points away from the relegation zone. (13.02.05)