It happened in the 95th minute but by the time the commentator on the radio had finished shouting Gooooooool! it was the 99th – and for once you couldn't blame him. This wasn't one of those moments when you waited and waited and waited, and then waited some more, as the Os tumbled off his tongue and the sirens wailed and the bells rang and the adverts blared; where you glanced at your watch and gazed out the window, when you scanned the fixtures nervously, thinking, "Yes, goal, I've got that, cheers … now, who for?" only to discover, eventually, exhaustedly, that it was an inconsequential strike in an inconsequential game somewhere in the second division. Córdoba's third against Xerez. No. This time was different. This time, it was worth the wait.

Racing Santander had just beaten Getafe thanks to an 88th-minute penalty in a game which their coach described with crushing honesty as "0-0 all the way" and which even their owner couldn't get all that excited about, merely thrusting a modest pair of fists in the air. Osasuna had thrashed Espanyol 4-0 under their new coach, José Luis Mendilíbar. And the night before Sporting Gijón had drawn 0-0 in Valencia to go with their 1-1 against Barcelona, maintaining a run of only two defeats in 10. Even Málaga, without a win in six, had picked up a point – thanks to a late goal from Sebas Fernández at Villarreal. True, Zaragoza, Hércules and Levante had all been beaten, but still Deportivo de La Coruña, fighting to preserve a 20-year stint in the top flight, needed something. And fast.

Because of a wonderful goal from Pablo Piatti, they were losing 1-0 to fellow relegation contenders Almería in the tightest race since … actually, let's not go there. Defeat would be their fifth in seven games. It might even be – at long last, said some – the end for their coach Miguel Ángel Lotina, a man with all the joie de vivre of Eeyore at a funeral. Defeat would leave them in 15th, a solitary point off the relegation zone, with four teams below them all within two points. And next weekend, they're playing Real Madrid. The referee had given four minutes of additional time. The clock said 94.02 and Deportivo had a corner. Pablo Álvarez took it, swinging it in. Three men leapt together, one was strongest – rising, said a commentator later, "like the classic No9". Getting his head to the ball, he nodded it goalwards. The clock said 94.12 when it crossed the line.

Ring! Ring! Ring! Woo! Woo! Woo!

¡Gooooooooo ...

… oooooooo ...

… oooooooo ...

[Look at watch, twiddle thumbs, wait, wonder]

… oooooooo …

… oooooooo ...

[Continue to wait, get a bit impatient]

… ooooooool! …

[Now?]

Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol!

[For who?]

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool ...

[Yes?]

… del Depor!

[Wow, that's a big goal]

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool de Dani Aranzubia!

Dani Aranzubia? Hang on a minute, did we hear that right? Dani Aranzubia? The boy from La Rioja? The man who loves Bilbao's Guggenheim museum so much he took a holiday to New York to see the other one, only to declare Bilbao miles better? The former Spain international who played his only game in a friendly against Andorra in 2004? The one-time Under-20 World Champion? The genius who won back his place by accidentally injuring his rival and then playing a blinder in the Basque derby? The man Athletic Bilbao still shipped out on a free? Who Joaquín Caparrós trusted so little that he brought in a 38 year-old who wasn't even playing in the Second Division B, an aging rocker with knackered knees, rather than 'risk' playing him? The man who'd never, ever scored a goal before in his life? That Dani Aranzubia?

Dani Aranzubia, the goalkeeper?

Yes, him. "No one told me to go up for the corner, I just thought it was a good idea," said Aranzubia. And, boy, was it. Already a hero because of a string of saves, on Sunday evening Aranzubia became the first goalkeeper to score in Spain for nine years, since the penalty-taking Nacho González in March 2002 – the man against whom Stan Collymore made his debut for Mighty Oviedo and the man who outscored the Englishman that season. Aranzubia is only the sixth goalkeeper to ever get a goal in the Spanish league. And the first goalkeeper to do so with a header, although Andrés Palop famously scored one for Sevilla in the Uefa Cup and Jacques Songo'o had another disallowed for Depor in February 2000. The first goalkeeper, in fact, to score from open play in history. Santamaría, Fenoy, Chilavert, and González all got theirs from penalties; Prats twice scored from free-kicks.

No wonder his team-mates went mad, grins like Zippy's stretched across their faces. Aranzubia disappeared under a pile of bodies. "I thought I was going to suffocate," he admitted. "I couldn't breathe; I had to get them off me. What really matters is that the goal was so important for us." The goal took Depor to 13th, giving them a tiny bit of breathing space, a three-point gap between them and the relegation zone. AS gave him its gold award for the week, the cover declaring incredulously: "Gol de Aranzubía!". Marca too, noted the feat – in small letters below a big whinge about Dani Alves (possibly) being offside in the build-up to Barcelona's first goal against Athletic Bilbao. And Sport, the Catalan comic, didn't mention it at all, of course. But everyone else did. "Dani," said 'striker' Rikki, recalling Spain's most famous header of the ball, "was Carlos Santillana". As for Dani himself, he smiled modestly: "I did what I see my team-mates do."

Beg your pardon?

Dani Aranzubia scored because he had to. Now, that's always true about the goalkeeper who goes up for a corner in desperation but this was about more than the result. This was about Deportivo; this was about the limitations felt by a team that long since stopped being Super Depor, about the harsh reality of economic crisis and austerity. The harsh reality of their football, a reality made all the harder to take because of the memory of what they once were. Aranzubia did not do what he sees his team-mates do; he did what they so rarely do.

There have been one or two brilliant matches this season – the incredible 3-3 with Sevilla springs to mind. There have been one or two brilliant individual performances too – and Adrián in particular has impressed. Depor's continued presence in the First Division is to their credit, as is the patience they have shown, the stability they have fostered. And you can only have admiration for fans who responded to their team's desperate form by storming the training ground and hanging up huge banners declaring their support, applauding them as they jogged round the pitch. But still Deportivo are desperately, life-sappingly dull. So bad, you'd rather switch over to Tele5 – and that's bad. Or, better still, turn off your television set, go out and do something else less boring instead.

Depor staved off relegation by going for five at the back in 2007-08 and faced by a similar situation this year, took the same route. Even when they have got results – and their last four league finishes have been a reasonably impressive 10th, seventh, ninth and 13th - they have rarely done so with a flourish.

One newspaper claimed that Aranzubia had been Rikki for the night. Only Aranzubia scored. Rikki has been their striker for the last five years, during which his goals tally has read 3, 5, 6, 8 and 2. But it is not just Rikki and it is not really his fault. Last season, only Espanyol got fewer goals than Depor. All three relegated teams scored more. For the last four years, their top scorer has not got into double figures. Their current top scorer, Adrián, has four. On Sunday night Aranzubia became the seventh top scorer in a 29-man squad. And what goals they do get tend not to be works of art: Depor, the joint lowest scorers in the league, are the seventh highest when it comes to set plays. They are among the top 10 for outside-of-the-area belters too – goals that take little creation, just a momentary explosion.

When it comes to Deportivo matches, it's rare that the alarm sounds, the bells ring and the commentator drags out the word Gol!, leaving you hanging on, desperate to know who got it but convinced that straining to hear will ultimately prove pointless. Sunday was different, unique. Sunday was worth the wait. Nine years later, a goalkeeper scored. Eighty-three years later, a goalkeeper scored from open play. It was the first time ever. All the banging and crashing and ringing and shouting always seems to herald something special but so rarely delivers. This time it really did. Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool de Dani Aranzubia!

Week 24, results and talking points

• Racing Santander's new owner, Ali Sayed, turned up 19 minutes into their game against Getafe, walking into the directors' box dressed all in black, sunglasses and entourage giving him a pop star air. Some reckoned he was late. In fact, he was early. Over an hour early. Absolutely nothing happened in a desperately bad game until the last two minutes when Gio dos Santos was, ahem, brought down for a penalty. Which Pinillos scored. After his fist-waving celebration last week, this time Sayed was a model of restraint. Things are going well, though: he and the new coach Marcelino have been in charge for two games now. Racing have won them both.

• Marca might have been moaning more than AS on its cover, but at least it didn't delete a player from their photo to 'prove' that Dani Alves was offside for Barcelona's first goal against Athletic Bilbao. Yes, really. Check this out. Barcelona were playing a revolutionary not-really-any-formation-at-all formation in which they appeared to have no left-back and two centre-backs standing all alone while Alves screeched about the pitch. They were caught out by Athletic – and if they play like this against Arsenal, Arsenal will hammer them – and after an Andoni Iraola penalty it was 1-1 with 15 minutes to go. Barcelona looked edgy and a little imprecise but with Iniesta and Messi producing some extraordinary skill, they did eventually find a way through. And it was the classic Barcelona move, too: Xavi's diagonal to Alves, Alves's ball back, Messi's finish. Just as it had been for the first – except the first was finished off by David Villa. Alves, who was extraordinary, now has more assists this season than anyone except Messi. Barcelona maintained their five-point lead at the top – but they don't look right.

• "When Real Madrid attack, it is like a stampede," shrugged Levante's coach Luis García. His team had set up an ultra-defensive formation at the Bernabéu but, as García put it: "Ángel Di María goes round three blokes and that's it, we can't stop him. They're just far too fast for us." Di María provided the first for Benzema; the second came from a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick after a – ahem – 'foul' on Di María. Ronaldo belted it into the six-yard box and Carvalho nudged it over the line.

• It's all well and good Málaga getting a late equaliser – and a good one against Villarreal, too – but they need to start winning and quick. Every week you think this is the week in which it will happen and every week it's not. They never seem to look that bad and with the players they have got they certainly shouldn't be that bad, but the reality makes grim reading: they haven't won in seven and are now four points off safety, stuck at the bottom of the table.

• On Sunday Almería's side had 10 foreigners in it: only Luna, the full-back, was Spanish.

Results:

Real Madrid 2–0 Levante, Zaragoza 0–1 Atlético, Valencia 0–0 Sporting, Getafe 0–1 Racing, Villarreal 1–1 Málaga, Almería 1–1 Deportivo, Osasuna 4–0 Espanyol, Sevilla 1–0 Hércules, Barcelona 2–1 Athletic. Monday: Real Sociedad v Mallorca