La Liga Round-Up: Magical Malaga March On To Europe

Saturday February 21, 2009 (CET)
20:00 Barcelona 1-2 Espanyol (report)
20:00 Real Madrid 6-1 Betis (report)
20:00 Villarreal 2-1 Sporting (report)
22:00 Sevilla 1-0 Atletico Madrid (report)
Sunday February 22
17:00 Valladolid 1-3 Malaga
17:00 Recreativo 1-1 Almeria
17:00 Mallorca 0-0 Racing
17:00 Osasuna 0-0 Numancia
19:00 Getafe L-L Athletic
21:00 Deportivo L-L Valencia (live)

Real Valladolid 1-3 Malaga

Malaga's incredible Champions League challenge continues after a well-deserved win at a Jose Zorrilla that looks less and less like a fortress of late.

It took just seven minutes for Albert Luque to give the visitors the lead, the ex-Newcastle man launching a wonderful shot from the edge of the area past Justo Villar.

Apono doubled the Boquerones' advantage on the half hour mark from the penalty spot after Inaki Bea was judged to have fouled Eliseu in the box. However, the hosts bitterly contested referee Megia Davila's decision.

To the Pucela's credit they fought back in style in the second half, Pedro Oldoni and Henok Goitom both hitting the woodwork, but the damage had been done.

Indeed, although Oldoni was to pull one back after a Pedro Leon cross, Valladolid knew that they were in trouble as three members of the Pucela technical team - including coach Mendilibar - were sent to the stands.

To add insult to injury Nacho restored his side's two-goal advantage right at the death with a lobbed finish.

Recreativo Huelva 1-1 Almeria

A controversial red card changed the match in Huelva, but ten-man Almeria still managed a draw against El Decano.

Almeria were the better side from the outset, with both Alvaro Negredo and Corona passing up good chances, but on the 20 minute mark all that changed.

Albert Crusat was sent off with a straight red card after tackling Iago Bouzon following his losing the ball to the Recre defender; certainly the challenge was late, but a straight red seemed to be a harsh decision from referee Rodriguez Santiago.

Still, it changed the game as Recre at once appeared to be the stronger side. For all their dominance, though, they enjoyed few chances heading towards the interval.

Although Acasiete came close to making it 1-0 to the visitors ten minutes after the restart, Javier Camunas broke the deadlock for Recre one hour in. Akale set the forward up brilliantly for a far post header that sent the Nuevo Colombino wild.

But then came a penalty for the visitors after Iago Bouzon apparently fouled Pablo Piatti in the box. Andres Lamas picked up a yellow card for protesting, but it was all for nought as Alvaro Negredo fired home the leveller.

Marco Ruben might have won it for Recre right at the end, but 1-1 was the final result.

Mallorca 1-0 Racing Santander

Mallorca took a giant leap away from the relegation mire with a late, late win over struggling Racing Santander at the ONO Estadi.

The first half was largely an even affair, although the best chances generally fell the way of the hosts, such as a great Juan Arango-Aritz Aduriz piece of play 20 minutes in.

But the match truly began to go in Mallorca's direction five minutes after the break following Ezequiel Garay's 'last man' foul on Aritz Aduriz on the edge of the area.

Despite going down to ten men, Racing seemed set to hold on for a draw, even as coach Juan Muniz saw one of his technical team sent off by a prickly Velasco Carballo.

The coach himself watched in horror as Toni Moral fouled Aritz Aduriz in the box two minutes from time, and although Tono initially saved Jose Jurado's penalty, the Atletico Madrid alumnus tucked away the rebound.

Muniz himself was then sent to the stands right at the death as Racing made it four games without a win.

Osasuna 2-0 Numancia

Careless Numancia were sucked deep into the relegation mire as Osasuna escaped from the dropzone following a priceless home win.

After just two minutes Jaroslav Plasil opened the scoring for the hosts. The Czech, receiving the ball on the edge of the area, weaved past Juanra before firing low under Juan Pablo for a well-taken goal.

The Rojillos had the bulk of the chances heading towards the interval, and although the visitors were not completely out of it Numancia were in fact to go in at half time two goals down. This time Masoud Shojaei did the honours with an unmarked finish after Juanfran's cross.

Newly-apponted Numancia boss Pacheta was then sent to the stands as a dull encounter suddenly fired up in the final twenty minutes, Antonio Guayre hitting the post at one end before Antonio Hidalgo passed up a great chance at the other. But 2-0 it ended.

Ewan Macdonald,