Real Madrid continued to keep the pressure on their fierce rivals Barcelona with an undeserved 2-1 victory against Osasuna in El Sadar. The Pamplona-based home side dominated the majority of the game yet wasted a hatful of chances.
England striker Michael Owen, once again on the substitutes bench, entered the fray to equalise for Madrid with his first touch of the ball. The visitors were then in front three minutes later when Osasuna ‘keeper Ricardo Sanzol failed to hold onto a David Beckham free-kick, leaving Ivan Helguera to sweep the ball home from close range.
Barcelona recovered from last weekend’s setback by recording an impressive 4-1 win away at Real Zaragoza.
The home side gifted Barca the lead when Delio Toledo put through his own net. Samuel Eto’o set-up Ludovic Giuly to score from close range while Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho brilliantly set up Eto’o for the third.
The home side started the second half strongly and soon had a goal back on the hour mark when skipper Luciano Galletti stormed past two defenders, and dispatched the ball into the bottom corner of the goal from 25 yards out. The visitors then regained control and added a forth-through Rafa Marquez.
Reigning champions Valencia saw their slim chances of regaining the title all but disappear as Deportivo La Coruna stole the points at the Mestalla. Claudio Ranieri’s team can count themselves unlucky as they dominated possession but went down to Lionel Scaloni and Victor goals. Valencia had hit back through Marco di Vaio.
Despite this loss Ranieri received a vote of confidence from club president Juan Soler: “Claudio Ranieri has all the support of the board, and his president.”
The Basque Country provided the days best game of the weekend with Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis sharing eight goals in an amazing 4-4 draw. The away side had stormed into a three goal half-time lead only to see that evaporate into a 4-3 deficit. Nine minutes from time though, Betis’ Benjamin rifled in an equaliser to ensure a share of the points.
Sevilla took full advantage of Valencia’s slip-up to move up into third place with a 2-1 over high-flying Villarreal. Espanyol stayed on the coat tails of the teams chasing a Champions League spot with a two goal late show over Getafe.
Real Sociedad grabbed three vital points at Racing Santander with a 3-1 victory as they continued their climb away from the drop zone. Mallorca grabbed a controversial penalty against Albacete giving them a 2-1 victory and a real chance of staying in the top flight division.
Malaga also grabbed three valuable points in their relegation dogfight with Numancia. Juan Rodriguez grabbed the only goal of the game after Luis Garcia Tevenet was sent off for the visitors.
Levante got a credible 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid after they had Jose Antonio Cluebras sent off after only 17 minutes.