Second Division A - Day 42

Levante took the last promotion spot after beating Lleida 0-1 on Saturday evening. Mané's side return to the top flight just one year after they were relegated thanks to a goal late in the first half from Riga. The visitors only needed to draw against their already relegated hosts to make sure of going up, although Bilic caused problems for Cavallero early on. A mistake by keeper Miguel allowed Riga to score what was to be the winner, but Bilic brought a couple more saves out of Cavallero in the second half before Bruno Saltor limped off a quarter of an hour from the end to leave the Catalans with ten men.

Mathematicians had worked out that the Valencianos had an 84.1% chance of going up, but two other sides were in with a shout at the start of the day. Ciudad Murcia were the best placed, albeit that they needed Levante to lose, and they gave it their best shot with a 2-0 win over already promoted Gimnastic Tarragona. The locals controlled what was a bad tempered match both on the pitch and in the stands, Amaya and Bolo both getting sent off in the second half. Luque put Abel Resino's side ahead after Piti set him up with ten minutes to go, and Goitom added a second a few minutes later from Falcón's pass. But it was not enough as news came in from Lleida of Levante's victory.

Meanwhile the other contenders Lorca were held to a 0-0 draw by Poli Ejido, and they finish their first season in the top flight in a more than respectable fifth place. There was a very different atmosphere from that at their neighbours Ciudad, with fans in a festival mood despite the result. The two keepers were the stars of the match, Kike in particular stopping efforts from De Carlos and Sava before the break and Jauregui saving a second half penalty from Keko, who was sent off near the end of the game.

Xerez's season ended with a goal feast, Pedro Ríos scoring a first half hat-trick in five minutes as the Andalusians beat their neighbours Málaga B 4-2. The visitors went ahead with an Ador penalty after the ball hit Francis on the arm, but Moreno headed home Colorado's corner to equalise of the half hour mark. Just a minute later Ríos took advantage of a mistake by keeper Manolo to score, and completed his hat-trick soon afterwards thanks to assists from Geijo and Camuñas. Abel rounded off the scoring after the restart with a second penalty after Francis brought down Ador.

Numancia rounded off a great second half to the season with a 3-2 win over Real Madrid Castilla to finish eighth. Andoni Goikoetxea's side were two up at the break, Hamilton Ricard controlling Juan Carlos Moreno's cross to beat Codina with a shot on the turn, and Moreno getting the second himself after Corredoira set him up. Adrían Martín got one back with a well struck free kick in the second half, but Palacios restored the two goal cushion before De la Red got a late consolation for the visitors.

Numancia ended the season just one place behind Almería, who were beaten 2-0 by Castellón in their last match. Chances were few and far between in the first half, the best falling to Toni Velamazán who hit the bar for the visitors shortly before the break. Headed goals though by substitutes Raúl Sánchez and Kenji Fukuda in the last five minutes gave the three points to Pepe Moré's side.

Nothing else to play for in the other matches either, with Valladolid and Elche ending a disappointing campaign with a 2-2 draw after the hosts fought back from two down. The visitors went ahead when Nino picked up a pass from Bernaus to beat Lledó, and Fernando Niño headed the second before the interval from Cachorro's cross. Alfredo Merino made three changes at the break, and with twenty minutes to go Alvaro got one back from the penalty spot after being fouled by Quesada. And three minutes from the end Curbelo headed home a free kick to square the match.

Sporting Gijón finished in the top half of the table after beating Real Murcia 1-0. The only goal of the game came two minutes in to the second half when calandria headed home a De Lucas cross, Both sides gave a run out to younger players, with local keeper Manu saving twice from Pico in the second half and Barrancos coming close to equalising when he hit the post in the last minute.

The relegation spots were already tied up, and Eibar and Racing Ferrol waved goodbye to the second division A with a dull 1-1 draw. Only one year the Ipurúa stadium was full to bursting for the same fixture, with the Basque side on the verge of promotion, but there were less than a thousand there this time to see their side go behind when Baha connected with Manolo's cross to score midway through the first half. Arriaga made it all square just two minutes after the restart, but the hosts could have lost had Etxeberría not saved a Baha penalty after Fagoaga was sent off for fouling the striker near the end.

Tenerife saved themselves last week though, and the atmosphere at the Heliodoro stadium was relaxed as they too ended this year's season with a 1-1 draw against Albacete. Bernd Krauss gave a run out to several youngsters, and Tomi took advantage to deflect a shot from Ricardo past Casto midway through the second half. Corona deprived the locals of a win though when he beat Bernanrdo with a header three minutes from the end. (17.06.06)

Only one match remained for Sunday, Recreativo winning 0-2 at Hércules to overtake Nàstic and take the second division title. Both goals came in the first half, an active Rosu getting on the end of Xavi Jiménez cross to beat Moso on the half hour mark, and Jiménez adding the second himself with a long shot close to the break. Many of the local fans left at half time, but at least their side is assured of another season at this level after finishing up six points above the drop zone. (18.06.06)