Atletico win as Resino waves magic wand

New Atletico Madrid coach Abel Resino had a memorable debut as his side defeated Recreativo Huelva 3-0 to record their first win in 2009. Resino replaced the sacked Javier Aguirre this week and the change had the desired effect, as Atletico closed to within two points of fourth-placed Valencia.

Sergio "Kun" Aguero scored after just two minutes and Diego Forlan delivered a rapid brace, with goals in the 26th and 34th minutes to wrap up the points. Forlan and Aguero now have 24 goals between them, but Resino, a former Atletico goalkeeper, will be happy about a rare clean sheet from a side that have conceded far too many goals this season.

Villarreal hold fifth
Villarreal stay two points ahead of Atletico in fifth after a 2-1 triumph over Numancia. Giuseppe Rossi scored both Villarreal goals to secure a much-needed win for a team struggling to emulate last season's second-placed finish.

"Before Numancia equalised we could have had five or six and the final scoreline should have been more," said Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini.

Real fail to impress
Real Madrid notched up their seventh successive win yesterday with a 1-0 victory over Racing Santander, but the home crowd jeered and left early to show their disappointment at their team trying to hang on to a lead rather than going for a second goal. "I don't think we bore the crowd," said Gonzalo Higuain. "The important thing is we won again and took three more points."

Barcelona face Sporting Gijon
Real sit nine points behind leaders Barcelona who host Sporting Gijon today and are looking to restore their 12-point gap at the summit. Barcelona have been outstanding this season and that is reflected in the Spain squad, with the uncapped Gerard Pique and Sergi Busquets, that has been called up for Wednesday's friendly with England in Seville.

"Everyone has congratulated them in the changing rooms," explained Bojan Krkic, another of Barca's youth stars capped by Spain. "Five players from Barcelona's youth system are in the squad and that shows just how good the young players here are."

Pique is suspended for the Gijon match, but Pep Guardiola can count on Brazilian Dani Alves, who won his appeal to have a yellow card rescinded and avoid suspension.

"We will go to Barcelona to win like we do in every match," said Sporting coach Manolo Preciado. Sporting are one of the most adventurous teams in the league going for win or bust and that is reflected in their record of nine wins and 12 defeats from 21 games.

Valencia at Osasuna
Valencia, above fifth-placed Villarreal on goal difference, play later today at strugglers Osasuna and their coach Unai Emery called for an improvement in their away form, all too cognizant of the fact that they have lost their last four games on the road. "The team are certainly on a bad run away from home, but we have a chance to end that sequence against Osasuna," explained Emery.