Barcelona stormed into the Champions League quarter-finals this week with victory over Chelsea but they crashed down to earth with a 2-1 defeat at
Osasuna on Sunday evening. After receiving praise across Europe for eliminating the Premiership champions on Tuesday, they took their foot off the
pedal in Pamplona and a committed Osasuna made them pay.
A blunder from keeper Victor Valdes gifted Valdo Lopez a goal and then a questionable penalty scored by Francisco Punal after Edmilson was sent off
for a foul on Savo Milosevic were enough to give Osasuna victory. Substitute Henrik Larsson grabbed a consolation for Barca, but the visitors' bad
night was completed by the 92nd minute sending-off of Thiago Motta.
Atletico Madrid closed on the European places as they scrapped their way to a bad-tempered win over Racing Santander in the Vicente Calderon. Having
lost 2-1 to city rivals Real Madrid last weekend Atletico looked nervous early on until striker Fernando Torres scored from the penalty spot,
following a harsh decision in the area in the 64th minute. Racing, who frustrated the home side for long periods, struck back in the 71st minute when
Damia Abella headed home from a corner, but Pablo Ibanez rose to head the winner two minutes later. In time added on at the end Atletico had
midfielder Gabi sent off for a second bookable offence taking the referee's yellow card count to ten in a niggly encounter.
A last-gasp penalty from substitute Tiko gave Athletic Bilbao what could prove to be a crucial victory over fellow strugglers Cadiz. Athletic went
into the game second-bottom, two points behind their opponents, but Tiko's winner sent them above Cadiz and up to 16th in the Primera Liga table.
The Andalusian derby produced a match befitting of two teams rooted in the bottom five as Real Betis and Malaga shared the points in a tepid draw.
David Rivas gave the hosts a 21st minute lead, but Antonio Hidalgo levelled the scores 17 minutes from time.
Getafe have done the double over Copa del Rey finalists Real Zaragoza with a 2-1 win at La Romareda. In a game Zaragoza were desperate to win to
avenge their 5-2 October humiliation against Getafe, the home side took a 33rd-minute lead through Argentina striker Diego Milito but Veljko Paunovic
equalised before half-time. After Alvaro Maior was given a straight red card for elbowing the Madrid team's goalscorer, Zaragoza almost took the lead
but Oscar Gonzalez hit the post and then Paunovic struck again. The home side hit the woodwork a second time but ended up on the losing side.
Alaves boosted their survival hopes by coming from behind to beat 10-man Sevilla despite a missed penalty and two late red cards. Javier Saviola had
given the visitors the lead in the 11th minute but five minutes later they were reduced to 10 men when Aitor Ocio was dismissed for handball inside
the area. Anderson Nene missed the penalty but made amends by finding the net moments later, and Rodolfo Bodipo completed the turnaround on the stroke
of half-time. In the final minutes, Bodipo and then team-mate Gutierrez Robles Juanito were sent off in separate incidents but there was to be no late
equaliser for Sevilla against the nine men of Alaves.
The turnaround at Real Mallorca continued as the Balearic Islanders avoided defeat for a fifth game running and this time they took a point off
Champions League quarter-finalists Villarreal. Ariel Pereyra headed the home side into the lead in the very first minute but Jose Mari equalised in
the 23rd minute for Villarreal and that is how it stayed for the remainder of the contest.
Striker Ronaldo missed a last-minute penalty as Real Madrid were forced to settle for a goalless draw at Valencia. The result does neither side any
favours in their increasingly desperate efforts to catch runaway leaders Barcelona, who can now pull 12 points clear at the top of the Primera Liga
with victory on the road against Osasuna on Sunday. In a game of few chances, the penalty drama came in the last minute of normal time. Ronaldo ran
menacingly into the Valencia box, played a neat one-two with Antonio Cassano as he went.
The Brazilian found himself clear in front of goal with just Canizares left to beat, only for the two to collide as the striker tried to round the
keeper. The Madrid substitute needed little encouragement to go to ground, and quickly picked himself up to take the ensuing spot kick. However,
Canizares quickly made amends for his misdemeanour, getting down low to his left to stop Ronaldo's tame penalty. Valencia stay in second, just ahead
Elsewhere, 10-man Espanyol eased their relegation fears with a convincing 2-0 victory over European-chasing Celta Vigo. Raul Tamudo sent Espanyol on
their way with a strike after 13 minutes and they doubled their advantage seven minutes before half-time with a fine goal from Fredson. In between,
Armando Sa was shown a red card for the hosts but a below-par Celta were never able to make their numerical advantage count.
Real Sociedad also took a huge step towards securing their top-flight status with a narrow 1-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna thanks to Gaizka Garitano's
second-half header. Deportivo had their chances but could not find the back of the net. They have now gone 540 minutes without a goal at home,
profligacy which could end up costing them a place in Europe.