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Espanyol shock Emery and Zaragoza win again: La Liga Round-Up and Highlights
- Updated: 16 April, 2012
Josep Lago /AFP/Getty Images
There were some big results in la liga on Sunday as the race for European qualification and the battle for survival moved up a notch with five games remaining.
In the day’s early game Espanyol scored twice in each half to thump Unai Emery’s much dishevelled Valencia outfit 4-0 at the Estadi Cornell-El Prat.
The Catalan side didn’t look back after Christian Gomez opened the scoring on the 26th minute and doubled their lead four minutes later when Joan Verdu lashed a shot into the top corner. Second half goals from substitute Alvaro Vazquez in the 57th and Kalu Uche in the 80th minute made the score emphatic and helped ensure Espanyol go into the final month of the season with every chance of securing European football next season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men now find themselves just a point behind sixth place Osasuna who were beaten 1-0 at Real Betis courtesy of Ruben Castro’s 14th goal of the campaign. There cause wasn’t helped when the influential Raul Garcia was shown a straight red card for a 62 minute tackle on Jefferson Montero. It was the third victory in four games for Betis who have now found some breathing space between them and the relegation zone.
With Valencia slipping up, Malaga had the perfect opportunity to claim third place but were held to a home draw by ten men Real Sociedad.
Malaga took the lead in fortunate circumstance when Isco’s shot took a deflection to wrong foot goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the 19th minute, and when defender Mikel Gonzalez received his marching orders for a second booking at the end of the first half it looked inevitable that Malaga would gain their seventh home win in eight games. However, la Real had other ideas and have shown some real metal in recent weeks in their bid to escape the relegation zone.
Just four minutes into the second half Xabi Prieto pounced on a poor clearance by Malaga to fire home the equaliser. Heroics from goalkeeper Bravo ensured that Malaga were left frustrated with Real Sociedad celebrating an unlikely point that could prove crucial come May.
In the relegation six pointer at el Madrigal, Lautaro Acosta scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure a much need point for bottom placed Racing Santander.
Looking to pull away from the drop zone themselves, Villarreal took the lead in early in second half through Hernan Perez but after Acosta’s header, Miguel Angel Lotina’s men are still just five points clear from relegation.
Given the circumstances of the game, Racing will be grateful to have come away with a point but time is running out for the club if they are to amass enough points to get to safety. They are currently a massive 10 points adrift.
In the Sunday’s other ‘relegation clash’ Zaragoza closed the gap on Abel Resino’s Granada to just five points. In a must-win game for the hosts, midfielder Tomislav Dujmovic’s fifth minute strike proved the difference between the two teams.
Sunday’s final game saw Atletico Madrid beat hard-working Rayo Vallecano 1-0 at the Campo de Vallecas. The homes side enjoyed large periods of possession during the game but the visitors carried the greater threat and Radamel Falcao pounced on a mistake from Raul Bravo to bag the game’s only goal just past the hour mark.
Bravo allowed the Colombian hit man to turn him on the halfway line and break clear on goal. Falcao’s task was made easier when Rayo goalkeeper Cobeno came haring out his area, allowing the Atleti forward to round him and stroke the ball into an empty net for his 22 league goal of the season.
ESPANYOL 4-0 VALENCIA
VILLARREAL 1-1 RACING SANTANDER
MALAGA 1-1 REAL SOCIEDAD
BETIS 1-0 OSASUNA
ZARAGOZA 1-0 GRANADA
ATHLETIC 1-0 MALLORCA
RAYO VALLECANO 1-0 ATLETICO MADRID