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Second Division - Day 21

Once again the Friday night game ended without goals after Xerez and Elche cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw. Ripa hit the bar for the visitors in the eleventh minute and José Marí replied for the locals soon afterwards with a shot which Willy Caballero did well to keep out. Elche were left with nine men though after Héctor Verdés and then Etxeita both picked up two yellow cards a few minutes either side of half time. But the locals were unable to take advantage, their only real chance coming when Bruno hit the crossbar following a corner with a quarter of an hour to go. (21.01.11)

Leaders Betis were brought down to Earth after their midweek victory over Barcelona in the cup, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Villarreal B on Saturday evening ending their run of seven league games without defeat. The Andalusians (already crowned winter champions) only needed one point to set a new record at the mid-point of the season, but they went behind in the third minute after Fernando Vega fouled Hernán Pérez in the penalty area, Iago Falqué converting the resulting spot kick. Goitia had to be at his best after that to keep out a couple of efforts from Gerard, and Pérez hit the post a few minutes before the break as the home side continued to dominate. Jorge Molina headed just wide though on the stroke of half time, and the forward did get the ball in the net after the break only for the strike to be ruled out for a dubious offside. But the locals held fast after that for three points which takes them up to seventh in the table.

Betis's lead at the top was cut to three points though as Celta and Rayo Vallecano both won away from home. Celta in particular won 0-4 against last week's fourth placed side Cartagena to open up an eleven point gap with the chasing pack. David Rodríguez headed the Galicians in to an early lead from a De Lucas cross, but the locals came close to equalising two or three times, especially when Goiria had a goal disallowed for a hotly contested offside. Soon afterwards though Michu got on the end of another De Lucas assist to make it two, and fifteen minutes after the restart Trashorras scored the third on a rapid counter-attack. Iñaki Muñoz hit the bar for the home side with ten minutes to go, but a minute later Michu scored his second of the evening, and two minutes after that Cartagena's Txiki was sent off with a straight red.

Rayo Vallecano stay level with Celta though after a 1-2 win at Barcelona Athletic. The Madrid based side took the lead in the first minute, Trejo latching on to a loose ball on the edge of the area to fire a shot in off the crossbar. Thiago forced Cobeño in to a good save with a long free kick though, and with ten minute to go to the interval Jonathan Soriano ran on to a Jonathan Dos Santos through ball to equalise. Fontàs hit the post just before half time, and Luis Enrique's side had a couple more chances after the restart. But with twenty minutes to go Armenteros surprised Miño with a shot in off the bar from right of the area, and although Soriano hit the post again with a late free kick, they could not prevent Rayo clocking up their third win in a row.

Granada occupy the last of the play-off spots after a 2-1 victory over struggling Recreativo. Although the locals started well, with Geijo bringing a good save out of Fabricio and Iñigo López hitting the bar, things went against them on the half hour mark when the fourth official (who had replaced the injured referee earlier on) awarded a controversial penalty after Rafita fell under a challenge from Roberto. The keeper was sent off in the action, and Jesús Vázquez drilled home the spot kick past his replacement José Juan. Orellana equalised though with a long shot ten minutes after the restart, and Mainz headed the winner from a corner with three minutes to go. Granada could move up to fourth if they can beat Tenerife in next Wednesday's rescheduled match.

Another disappointment though for Valladolid, a 1-0 defeat at Alcorcón leaving them in eleventh spot pending Sunday's games. Neither keeper was particularly troubled in the first half, but Borja and Paco Montañés went close for the locals after the restart. Alvaro Rubio shot straight at the keeper in reply after Nauzet set him up, but just a minute later Quini picked up a pass from Borja to score what was to prove the only goal of the game. The win takes Alcorcón out of the relegation spots, above Las Palmas, who play tomorrow lunchtime.

Huesca moved clear of the danger zone as well after a 1-0 victory over Albacete, who drop below their opponents in the table. The Aragón based side had only won once this season in their Alcoraz stadium, but they took the lead seven minutes before the break, Camacho beating Keylor Navas after the keeper had saved a previous shot from Roberto. Gluscevic, Asen and De Lerma all wasted easy chances to equalise after the restart, but Helguera could have extended the lead when he headed just wide later on. (22.01.11)

A Canary Islands derby to round off the first half of the season, with Tenerife and Las Palmas drawing 1-1 on Sunday lunchtime. Both teams started the game in the bottom four, and there were nerves early on, with the game constantly broken up by a series of fouls. Quero and Nino tested the two keepers in the first half, but six minutes after the restart the locals took the lead, Melli getting above the defence to head in a corner. However with three minutes to go Quiroga latched on to Quero's centre to equalise, saving a point which took the visitors above Recreativo and out of the relegation spots at the mid-point of the season. Tenerife stay bottom though (albeit that they have next Wednesday's game against Granada in hand), and soon after the final whistle coach Juan Carlos Mandía was sacked, just fifteen weeks after he took over Gonzalo Arconada. (23.01.11)

Later in the evening Numancia beat Salamanca 3-2 to move up to ninth in the table. Jaio headed the Soria based side in to the lead from a Barkero corner just before the break, and Barkero himself made it two from the penalty spot after Sito Castro brought down Cedric five minutes after the restart. With an hour on the clock though Kike López got one back after Quique Martín set him up, and in the last minute of normal time López scored again to level the scores. But with the visitors celebrating a draw Dimas beat Biel Ribas from the edge of the area to tie up the three points for the hosts.

The other two games on Sunday evening both ended in draws, with Córdoba and Girona edging further away from the drop zone after their game ended 1-1. The Andalusians had the better chances throughout, with Oriol Riera in particular testing Santamaría two or three times before the break. After the interval Arteaga and Charles both wasted chances to put the locals ahead, but with ten minutes to go Kiko Ratón gave the Catalans the lead following a corner. Córdoba finally got the goal they deserved though, Arteaga finally beating the visiting keeper with four minutes to go.

Girona's neighbours Gimnàstic stay down in the relegation spots though after they were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow strugglers Ponferradina. The locals dominated early on, with Rubén Navarro and new signing Viguera going close. And with six minutes to go to the break the visitors were left with ten men after Luis Prieto was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Catalans were unable to take advantage though, the nearest they came to scoring when Morán hit the post, and numbers were evened up in the end when Raúl Fuster was shown a straight red card after catching an opponent with a flying elbow. (23.01.11)