The race is on at the top of La Liga, and it looks as though Real are going to push Barca all the way to the end of the season, thanks to a great display from England’s Michael Owen.
Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona to nine points following their win over Albacete. The Catalan side claimed a point at home to Real Betis, when Giovanni Van Bronchorst spared their blushes with a last gasp equaliser.
Barca were behind late on against ten-man Betis, having played below their normal standards, but the leaders claimed a precious point thanks to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s, the former Arsenal utility man stunning injury-time equaliser. Frank Rijkaard’s team trailed by two goals entering the final stages at Camp Nou but Samuel Eto’o’s second penalty and van Bronckhorst’s late strike secured a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Joaquin, who is possibly Chelsea bound this summer, opened the scoring after 11 minutes, however the home side were back on level terms when Eto’o netted from the penalty spot shortly afterwards.
The visitors were hit by a double blow as David Rivas also saw red for the professional foul on Portugal international Deco in the process. Despite being a man light Los Verdiblancos regained their lead though Ricardo Oliveira before half time with Joaquin looking to have ended the contest with his second on the hour mark, the young Spanish winger really looked in good form, confirming why he is one of the hottest properties in European football. However, Frank Rijkaard’s men refused to lie down and somehow pulled a draw out of the jaws of defeat with two late goals at Camp Nou.
In the evening clash, rivals Real came from a goal behind to see off Albacete 2-1 with Michael Owen getting on the scoresheet. Fabio Redondo stunned the visitors when he turned ex Everton man Thomas Gravesen before firing home through the legs of Ivan Helguera and Iker Casillas.
However, Real were not behind for long and Helguera climbed over Mingo from a corner to level the scores with a header just minutes later. With half time approaching Guti played a pin-point through ball for Owen who controlled the pass before netting past the onrushing Raul Valbuena for the winning goal.
Deportivo walked through an easy win over Levante, the scoreline not reflecting the chances Deportivo created, with Diego Tristan, their leading marksman, giving them the only goal of the game.
Numancia’s hopes of retaining their Liga status were dealt another blow following a 1-0 defeat to Sevilla. The bottom of the table side battled well at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan but succumbed to a Claro Adriano Correia goal after 68 minutes. Time looks like it is running out for lowly Numancia.
Malaga and Getafe remain above the dreaded relegation zone following a 1-1 draw at La Rosaleda. Fernando Baiano opened the scoring early on, but Victoriano Nano levelled after 31 minutes secure a share of the spoils.
Espanyol’s successful season continued following a 3-1 away success over Racing Santander. Raul Tamudo’s penalty put the visitors ahead, but Yossi Benayoun’s goal brought Racing back on level terms. However, Daniel Jarque’s goal just before the break proved decisive with Maxi Rodriguez’s effort shortly after the interval ending the contest.
Atletico Madrid bundled more pressure on Mallorca with a 4-0 pounding at Vicente Calderon. Mallorca defended well in the first half and only trailed at the interval thanks to Gonzalo Colsa’s goal after 26 minutes. However, things went from bad to worse afetr the interval, with Sergio Ballesteros collecting his second yellow and Fernando Torres slotting home the resulting spot-kick.
The visitors were then reduced to nine men when Mark Iuliano, the ex Juventus man was dismissed for receiving two bookings. Salva Ballesta added the icing on the cake in the closing minutes as he scored twice for the hosts,. Mallorca looked poor and undeserving of the points, they got what they deserved for a mediocre performance.