A second-half equaliser from Borja Valero earned Real Mallorca a creditable 1-1 draw against Real Madrid.
Madrid were reduced to ten men after the sending-off of Sergio Ramos in the 66th minute. Despite dropping points, Real Madrid have increased their lead on Villareal, who were second at the start of the weekend’s action, because the Submarino Amarillo slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Sevilla. Sevilla took the lead through Luis Fabiano, a Brazilian striker who is currently sought after by some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The match was a tetchy enounter – Villareal sustained seven bookings and one sending off – and the outcome was finally decided in the 87th minute, when Frederic Kanoute converted his spot-kick to put the result beyond doubt.
Barcelona also failed to capitalise on Real Madrid’s slip-up. In Sunday’s late kick-off, the Catalan side, beset by injuries and internal strife, were held to a goalless draw by Getafe at the Nou Camp. So the initiative in the title race remains with Real Madrid, who are fully seven points clear of both Barca and Villareal, with seven games left to play.
Atletico Madrid stole a march on Santander for the all-important fourth spot. While Santander succumbed to a 3-1 home defeat by Deportivo, Atletico Madrid beat Almeria 6-3. Antonio Lopez and Diego Forlan put the Madrid side two up within seven minutes, and there were braces from Portuguese winger Simao Sabrosa and Argentine striker Sergio Aguero.
There was another disappointing result for underachieving Valencia, who were beaten 1-0 at lowly Murcia. The win provides a lifeline for Murcia in their desperate battle against relegation.
Real Zaragoza have slipped into the relegation places after a 3-0 home defeat by Real Betis. Zaragoza had been tipped to achieve great things this season after adding Roberto Ayala to their impressive contingent of talented Argentine stars, and their poor performance this season comes as something of a shock. They surely have the quality to stave off relegation.
Levante, by contrast, look doomed after a 3-0 home defeat by Valladolid left them languishing some ten points behind 19th-place Murcia.
By Houman Barekat