The Primera División's two leading clubs, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid CF, both suffered away defeats on Sunday.
Figo sent off
The leaders Real lost 3-2 at Real Betis Balompié, while Madrid were caught cold by Club Atlético Osasuna, who won 1-0. Madrid had Portuguese midfield player Luis Figo sent off at the El Sadar stadium, where Christian Manfredini, on loan from S.S. Lazio, scored the decisive goal after 38 minutes.
The game started slowly, with the first chance falling to Ronaldo after 23 minutes, but the Brazilian striker could only shoot wide after creating space. From that point on, the home side were largely in control, with Manfredini twice creating chances for John Aloisi, before beating Michel Salgado and shooting past Iker Casillas for the only goal of the game.
Aloisi close again
Madrid came out strongly after half-time, but again it was Osasuna who went closest, Aloisi hitting a post. Figo was then sent off after his second booking in eleven second-half minutes for a foul on Francisco Puñal. The home side then held on comfortably, although substitute Fernando Morientes might have rescued a late point for Madrid, but his header struck the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Real’s championship challenge suffered another blow at Betis, who took the lead after 12 minutes through Fernando. The score stayed that way until inside the final 20 minutes, when two goals from Real striker Nihat Kahveci, after 74 and 78 minutes respectively, turned the game on its head.
However, Real’s hopes of establishing a five-point advantage at the top of the table were dashed four minutes from time, as Iulian Filipescu brought Betis level with a looping header. The situation then got even worse for the visitors as Fernando made it 3-2 from the penalty spot with almost the last kick of the game.
Comfortable for Celta
Elsewhere, RC Celta de Vigo continued to press for a UEFA Champions League place with a 4-1 home win against bottom side RC Recreativo de Huelva. Two goals from Edu either side of half-time put Celta in control, and two further strikes from Jesuli meant Silvinho’s own goal was little consolation for Recreativo.
Atlético keep pace
Club Atlético de Madrid also kept up their challenge for a European spot with a 2-1 home win against RCD Mallorca. José María Movilla put the home side in front after 15 minutes, only for Alvaro Novo to equalise for Mallorca six minutes later. However, the away side then lost Harold Lozano, who was sent off for a foul on Fernando Torres after 34 minutes, and a second-half goal from Luis Garcia sealed Atlético’s win.
Deportivo Alavés were also winners with a 1-0 home victory against Villareal CF secured by Ivan Tomic’s goal 13 minutes from time, while Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Racing Club Santader both enjoyed 2-0 home victories, against Sevilla FC and Rayo Vallecano respectively.
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