Spanish La Liga Roundup, Dec. 20

Valencia wasted a chance to climb to third in the Spanish league

standings when it was held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna on

Sunday, while Tenerife drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid.

On the last day of games before the two-week winter break,

Valencia enjoyed more possession and created plenty of chances,

with David Villa a constant threat. However, the hosts looked

dangerous on the break and Adrian Lopez was put through in the

28th, drawing a fine save from Cesar Sanchez.

Lopez found some space again moments later although he lacked

support and sent a speculative shot over.

La Coruna’s Juan Carlos Valeron had the best opportunity of

the first half when he headed against the crossbar shortly before

the break during a spell of pressure by the home side.

Valencia increased its grip on the game in the second half

and looked like scoring several times although Sergio Gonzalez

should have put La Coruna ahead in the 63rd when he headed wide

from a free kick.

Valencia remains fourth on 29 points, one behind Sevilla.

Deportivo is on 27 points, in sixth, Atletico is 15th on 14 points

and Tenerife is 14th with a point more.

On Saturday, Real Madrid beat Zaragoza 6-0 to move to 37

points and only two behind leader Barcelona, which won the Club

World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Juan Francisco “Nino” Martinez put Tenerife ahead in the

third minute in the Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez stadium, tapping in

unmarked from a free kick.

Jose Manuel Jurado equalized in the 22nd, from an assist by

Diego Forlan.

Atletico’s defense looked vulnerable on set pieces, while its

attack was without in-form duo Sergio Aguero and Jose Antonio Reyes

because of injuries.

Both were sorely missed, as Atletico lacked finesse going

forward and lone striker Forlan was isolated from his midfield in

the first half.

On one of Atletico’s rare forays deep into Tenerife’s half,

Maxi Rodriguez blasted a wild shot wide after doing well to dribble

through the defense.

Tenerife’s Nino nearly scored again on the half hour, when he

dribbled into the area and sent a shot drifting across the

goalface.

The hosts won a penalty just before halftime, when Alvaro

Dominguez was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area. Sergio

Asenjo guessed correctly and dived to his left to save Nino’s kick.

Forlan had several chances as the clock ticked down and timed

his run to perfection to take a long pass down the left from Jurado

although Jose Antonio Culebras dispossessed him.

The Uruguay striker was inches (centimeters) away from

securing a win in injury time when he nearly got a boot to Florent

Sinama-Pongolle’s cross.

“The result may not have been fair (on us), although the way

our players performed was completely satisfactory,” said Tenerife

coach Jose Luis Oltra.

Relegation-threatened Malaga upset Mallorca 2-1, while

Villarreal continued its recent progress up the standings by

beating Racing Santander 2-0. Espanyol beat Almeria 2-0 and

Valladolid defeated Sporting Gijon 2-1.

At La Rosaleda stadium Malaga’s Fernando Fernandez scored in

the 24th minute after goalkeeper Dudu Aouate failed to control a

free kick.

Fernando Forestieri’s header in the 77th clinched a crucial

three points for Malaga after Julio Alvarez had equalized early in

the second half.

Mallorca is fifth on 27 points. Malaga stays in the

relegation zone on 12 points.

At El Madrigal stadium, Joseba Llorente put Villarreal ahead

in the 50th after a mix-up by the Santander defense. Giuseppe Rossi

scored the second in the 73rd.

Villarreal is ninth on 21 points and Santander 16th on 13

points.