Barcelona took a giant step towards winning the Primera Division title after crushing arch rivals and nearest challengers Real Madrid 6-2 at the Bernabeu.
Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi both netted braces while Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were also on the scoresheet as Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasers inflicted a first league defeat on in-form Madrid since beating the reigning champions at the Nou Camp in December.
Madrid had picked up 52 points from a possible 54 since that match, but their hopes of a third successive title now look sunk after they fell seven points adrift of Barca with only four games remaining.
Barca, who also hold the better head-to-head record against their rivals, can now clinch the title next weekend if they beat Villarreal and Madrid lose to Valencia.
Numancia boosted their hopes of Primera Division survival with a 2-0 win at home to European hopefuls Malaga on Saturday night. Juan Carlos Moreno gave the Soria-based outfit the lead after a minute and the home side deservedly went in ahead at the break. But their task looked complicated eight minutes into the second half when Asier Goiria was sent off. Numancia continued to dominate, though, and went two ahead through Javier Del Pino on the hour.
Sevilla all but booked their Champions League berth with a well-worked 2-0 victory over Villarreal on Saturday evening which severely dents their opponents’ hopes of securing a place in Europe’s premier club competition. Luis Fabiano opened the scoring shortly before the hour mark and, although Villarreal were handed a lifeline when Abdoulay Konko was sent off 18 minutes from time, Frederic Kanoute scored 10 minutes later to leave Sevilla five points clear of their hosts.
On Sunday, Nasief Morris capped a magnificent late Recreativo Huelva fightback with an injury-time winner as the Andalusian club gave their hopes of avoiding the drop a massive boost with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Osasuna.
Recre, who slumped into bottom spot following Numancia’s shock win over Malaga, looked sure-fire bets to go down after taking just one point from their previous eight games and recording only one win in 13. And another nail looked to have been hammered into their relegation coffin when Osasuna took a 26th-minute lead through Walter Pandiani – an advantage the home side held until the 81st minute, despite having Sergio Fernandez sent off just after half-time.
Recre showed they still have fight left in them though as they turned the match on its head in the dying minutes to climb back off the foot of the table and to within a point of safety. Substitute Ersen Martin started the comeback with a cool finish to level the scores, and then defender Morris popped up five minutes into injury time to lash home a brilliant volley at the far post and earn Recre the spoils.
Deportivo La Coruna boosted their hopes of a place in next season’s Europa League thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Valladolid. Lassad Nouioui’s strike after just eight minutes proved enough to win a tense encounter against a Valladolid outfit bereft of form and confidence.
Michel suffered a losing start to life as Getafe coach after another error from goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic gifted Real Mallorca a 2-1 victory at the Ono Estadi today. Michel, the former Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid B coach, was handed the reins of Getafe earlier this week as the replacement for Victor Munoz, who was sacked following a run of seven defeats in nine matches. But the 46-year-old ex-Spain international was unable to turn the tide for Getafe as they slumped to defeat at an in-form Mallorca side who have now picked up 13 points from their last five matches to banish their own drop fears.
Almeria secured a first away win since the opening day of the season to move into the top half and leave Racing Santander sweating over their top-flight status with four rounds of La Liga remaining. Juanma Ortiz struck twice in the opening 12 minutes to seal an impressive 2-0 win for Hugo Sanchez’s side against an out-of-sorts Racing.
Sporting Gijon shot themselves in the foot as they conceded a last-minute equaliser to Athletic Bilbao which severely dents their chances of maintaining their Primera Division status. The hosts thought they had secured a vital win thanks to Mate Bilic’s goal on the hour mark but Andoni Iraola snatched a share of the points for Athletic right at the death