Thu, May 03, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Villarreal, Granada almost safe after crucial victories

AFP, MADRID

Villarreal took a huge step to securing their position in La Liga on Tuesday with a 3-2 away victory over relegation rivals Sporting de Gijon. Sporting are almost certainly returning to the -second-rung of Spanish soccer after three seasons in the top division.

Full back Mario Gaspar put the away team ahead on 19 minutes, only for Alberto Lora to level 20 minutes later. The all important third goal came from the penalty spot when Marcos Senna put Villarreal ahead just before halftime after Sporting defender Gregory Arnolin had inexplicably brought down Marco Ruben.

Hernan Perez added a third on 56 minutes and although Alejandro Galvez gave the home team some hope with five minutes remaining, it was Villarreal who deservedly took the crucial three points.

The referee threatened to remove the teams in injury-time as the home fans showed their discontent by throwing objects onto the pitch.

With only two games remaining, the “Yellow Submarine,” who reached the Europa League semi-final last season and narrowly lost a Champions League semi to Arsenal in 2006, move seven points clear of Sporting in a game that was always going to be decisive for the losers.

Villarreal would be safe if Real Zaragoza were to fail to beat Levante UD yesterday, while Sporting’s only hope of survival comes with gaining two wins in their final two games and hoping Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, currently six points ahead, do not pick up another point.

Earlier, Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo scored a first-half double for Granada to help the Andalusian club to a vital 2-1 home win over RCD Espanyol that also almost guarantees they will be playing in the first division next season.

Didac Vila got a goal back for Espanyol, but Granada hung on for the win that puts them eight points clear of Sporting, who now can’t catch them, and Zaragoza. If Zaragoza were to fail to beat Levante at home, then Granada would be playing their second season in La Liga since 1976 after their promotion back to the top division last summer.

Also on Tuesday, Getafe wasted a chance to improve their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League after drawing 1-1 at home to already relegated Real Racing Club de Santander.

Miku scored a 59th-minute penalty for the home team, but Pape Diop leveled the game five minutes later to earn a deserved point for Racing.

Getafe remain 10th with 46 points, only three points from a Europa League place, but seem destined to miss out on Europe as a host of teams above them were to play yesterday.

Real Madrid would win their first league in four seasons yesterday if they beat Athletic Bilbao or if second-placed Barcelona fail to beat Malaga.

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