Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Villarreal close gap on Barcelona

AFP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

Valencia’s Alexis Ruano Delgado, right, heads the ball under pressure from Achille Emana of Real Betis during their Spanish La Liga match at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP/PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE

Injury-hit Villarreal underlined their Spanish league title credentials with a 2-1 victory over rock-bottom Recreativo Huelva on Sunday to cut the gap on leaders Barcelona to four points.

Despite missing seven players, including influential midfielder Marcos Senna, Villarreal had enough to overcome a Recreativo side who have won just once all season.

Villarreal were fortunate to go ahead when Santi Cazorla’s shot from outside the area went in off a defender after 26 minutes.

Ariel Ibagaza doubled the lead with a well struck free-kick, before Recreativo pulled a goal back through a penalty from Adrian Colunga after Pascal Cygan brought down Marco Ruben.

“We had a good game and in my opinion deserved more goals,” Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said. “After our second goal we were clearly superior, although we didn’t take our chances. We won in spite of missing a lot of players.”

A Ruben Baraja header gave 10-man Valencia a 3-2 victory in a pulsating encounter with Real Betis at the Mestalla to keep them in the championship hunt.

Valencia had lost their last two home games, but went into a commanding lead after first-half goals from David Villa and Juan Mata.

Betis reduced the deficit when Juanma Gonzalez scored after 56 minutes.

Valencia then had Carlos Marchena sent off for a foul on Sergio Garcia, with Achille Emana converting the spot-kick. Betis pushed forward looking for the victory, but Baraja headed a free-kick powerfully past the stranded Betis keeper to give Valencia the three points.

A late brace for Diego Forlan put the gloss on Atletico Madrid’s performance as they beat 10-man Racing Santander 4-1 to move up to sixth place.

Fans were able to return to the Calderon after Atletico’s mid-week Champions League game was played behind closed doors, but they saw their side fall behind after just seven minutes when Mohamed Tchite scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Johnny Heitinga.

Atletico responded well, with Simao Fonseca firing home from a Forlan pass and then, following the sending off of Cesar Navas for a crude challenge on Paulo Assuncao, they began to take the game to the visitors. Sergio Aguero ended his goal drought with another well-taken strike.

Forlan scored his first with a left-foot shot from 25m and then a second with a flicked header to give Atletico a resounding victory.

Espanyol’s 1-0 home defeat to Sporting Gijon led to the post-match sacking of coach Bartolomeo Marquez with the team on the edge of the relegation zone.

Deportivo La Coruna defeated Almeria, with Joan Verdu scoring the only goal of the game.

Almeria were on the back foot after the sending off of Alvaro Negredo for elbowing Albert Lopo and they were lucky to survive a penalty that Verdu hit against the post, but it was Verdu who made amends with 15 minutes to go.

Spanish La Liga

 
Team
P
GD
PTS
1
Barcelona 
13
31
32
2
Villareal 
13
8
28
3
Valencia 
13
14
27
4
Real Madrid
13
10
26
5
Sevilla 
13
7
24
6
Atletico Madrid 
13
9
21
7
Deportivo La Coruna
13
0
21
8
Valladolid 
13
-1
19
9
Malaga 
13
-2
18
10
Sporting Gijon  
13
-6
18
11
Real Betis
13
2
17
12
Getafe 
13
-2
17
13
Racing Santander
13
-4
15
14
Almeria 
13
-7
15
15
Mallorca 
13
-8
13
16
Athletic Bilbao 
13
-8
12
17
Espanyol 
13
-9
12
18
Numancia 
13
-12
11
19
Osasuna 
13
-8
8
20
Recreativo Huelva 
13
-14
7

 

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