Second Division A - Day 26

Leaders Recreativo were held to a 0-0 draw by Eibar on Saturday night. The Basque visitors were more used to a pitch which was waterlogged following a heavy rainstorm than their hosts, and held on for a point which still does not take them out of the relegation zone. Local keeper Toño was in action early on to keep out Arriaga, and made an important save from Azkoitia's header later in the first half. Recre's only real chance was when Xavi Jiménez was tackled by Manuel as he advanced on goal after the restart, and the visitors thought themselves unlucky not to have a penalty in the last minute when Juan was brought down.

Third placed Levante caught up with Xerez pending their game on Sunday after drawing 1-1 at Albacete. Parri gave the home side the lead midway through the first half when he cut in past Ian Harte to beat Aizpurua, but Manchev equalised three minutes later, latching on to a loose ball after Rubén Martín could only push out Camacho's cross. Harte came close with a dangerous free kick soon afterwards, but otherwise the home side were on top as Mané sought to defend the point, Juanlu, Bermejo and Santamaría all wasting chances and the referee turning down two or three penalty appeals by the Manchegans.

Almería close up on the leading group after beating Tenerife 2-0, moving up the table to fifth for 24 hours at least. The first goal came somewhat against the run of play ten minutes before half time, Crusat unleashing an impressive volley from Soriano's cross. Soriano himself headed the second from Galca's free kick ten minutes after the restart, and after that Paco Flores's side sat back to defend. The Canary Islanders didn't cause any real problems for Valerio though until neat the end, when the keeper made important saves from Cristo Marrero and Toni Moral to make it four clean sheets in a row.

Valladolid lost more ground though after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of bottom club Málaga B, not a good result for new coach Alfredo Merino who moved up from the B team to take over from Marcos Alonso midweek. Ador opened the scoring for the locals in the fourth minute after Jesús Gámez and Saúl combined to set him up, and headed a second close to half time from Saúl's cross. Alvaro failed to beat debutant keeper Nauzet at the other end in between, but Llorente pulled one back after the restart on a quick breakaway. The visitors could have saved a point when Capdevila hit the post and Sousa wasted another chance near the end, but the hosts held on to give coach Lobo Carrasco his first win after six games in charge.

Real Madrid Castilla and Sporting Gijón cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw on a rainy night in Valdebebas, leaving both safely around mid-table. The Asturians took the lead on the quarter hour mark when Gerardo finished off a cross from David Karanka, their first goal in just under 500 minutes of football. Jurado and Soldado both tried their luck before the interval as the home side came forward after that, and Soldado levelled the scores on the hour mark, turning in Adrián Martín's cross for his fourteenth of the season. (25.02.06)

Gimnastic Tarragona moved up to fourth place, level with Xerez and Levante on points, following a 2-0 win over promotion rivals Lorca on Sunday lunchtime. The Catalans took the lead in the tenth minute when an attempted clearance by Jauregui hit Robles and fell to Diego Torres for him to roll the ball in to the unguarded net, but the keeper made up for the mistake with a good save from Ismael later in the first half. Debutant keeper Rubén Pérez did well to keep out a couple of efforts from the visitors, but early in the second half Torres got his second of the match after intercepting a wayward backpass from Fernando Vega. Rubén saved well from Alves and Vega and De Carlos both hit the woodwork as the Murcia based side tried to fight back without avail. The game ended controversially though as nerves failed and Ekpoki and Alves clashed, the Nigerian striker kicking his Brazilian opponent during the incident.

Another poor result for second placed Xerez, a last minute 0-1 defeat at the hands of Lleida on Sunday evening making it seven games now without a win. Santos went close for the visitors in the opening minutes and Bilic put another effort wide before the break, but Selu and Camuñas both could have scored for the locals in between. Bilic had a goal disallowed after the restart for a dubious offside, and Rangel did well to keep out a header from Dani Marín at the other end on the hour mark. Bruno Saltor almost put through his own net as well a few minutes later, but the game appeared to be heading for a draw when a long throw was touched on by Jacobo and Nakor turned on the ball to beat Julio Iglesias and take a valuable three points which takes the Catalans further away from the drop zone.

Only three points now separate Xerez from sixth place, and the promotion spots are once again wide open. Ciudad Murcia are also back in the running after they came from a goal down to beat struggling Castellón 1-2. The constant rain which delayed kick off by half an hour made play difficult, but the locals mastered the conditions better than their opponents. Aurelio and Raúl Sánchez both had chances early on, and Sánchez eventually opened the scoring on the half hour mark after Tabares set him up. The pitch turned in to a swimming pool after the break as the storm intensified, but the visitors equalised with a dubious penalty which Luque converted twelve minutes from the end, and Piti stole away the three points with a shot from the edge of the area near the final whistle.

Ciudad's neighbours Real Murcia are not improving since Sergio Kresic took over, and they drop further away from the leading pack after drawing 0-0 with Poli Ejido. The home side had almost all of the chances throughout the match, Iván Alonso and Salgueiro both failing to beat Kike before the break and Tena clearing off the line from Salgueiro after the restart with the keeper beaten. Iván Alonso had a penalty appeal turned down later on and then had another effort saved by Kike, but in the end they had to make do with a point.

Elche got their first victory in ten games though after winning 1-0 against Racing Ferrol, who stay in the drop zone as a result. The locals should have scored in a period of pressure early on, Raúl Martín hitting the side netting and Luis Gil and Nino going close. Baha and Joselito both wasted easy chances though later in the first half at the other end, and Gallon just missed the target after the restart. Nino picked up a pass though from Rubén to beat his marker and score midway through the second half, and Alberto should have added a second when he shot wide near the end.

The other match between Numancia and Hércules was postponed due to a heavy snowfall at the Pajaritos ground in Soria. The fixture has been rescheduled for the 22nd March. (26.02.06)