Espanyol boost European hopes with win over Elche in La Liga

Espanyol gave their European hopes a further boost with a dominant 3-1 home win over Elche in La Liga.

The hosts needed just two minutes to open the scoring, David Lopez heading them in front from a corner. Diego Colotto got the second goal midway through the first half and Pizzi added a third in the second period, although Juan Rafael Fuentes scored an own goal to give the visitors a late consolation.

The victory means Espanyol can harbour serious ambitions about qualifying for Europe, now that they are just seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, while Elche are just three points above the bottom three.

Valencia and Athletic Bilbao shared the points in a 1-1 draw.

Valencia went in front through Paco Alcacer’s 23rd-minute goal, but Aritz Aduriz’s penalty half-an-hour later ensured both sides got something.

Sevilla ensured their preparation for next week’s Europa League derby clash with Real Betis was almost perfect with a 3-1 away win over Almeria in La Liga.

Carlos Bacca, Daniel Carrico and Kevin Gameiro all scored for Sevilla with Aleix Vidal claiming a late consolation for the home side as the result kept the pressure on sixth-placed Real Sociedad, who are two points clear of Sevilla in the overall standings.

The scoreline also left struggling Almeria in the bottom three but only one point from safety in a congested bottom half of the table.