Villarreal cruised to a 3-0 win over last-place Zaragoza on Saturday to protect its third-place standing in the Spanish league on Saturday.
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Marcos Senna gave Villarreal the lead in the ninth minute with a shot from outside the penalty area, and Santiago Carzola added the second before the 20-minute mark.
Zaragoza played the last 25 minutes with 10 men after Matteo Contini was sent off, and moments later Villarreal’s Nilmar sealed the win.
The win gives Villarreal 27 points, five behind leader Real Madrid ahead of its game at second-place Barcelona on Monday.
Also on Saturday, Espanyol continued its strong start to the season with a 3-2 win at Atletico Madrid, and Getafe rallied to beat Sevilla 3-1 to end a four-game losing streak.
"Winning today was fundamental," said Villarreal head coach Juan Carlos Garrido, who renewed his contract until 2014 on Friday. "We played in a difficult stadium, regardless of Zaragoza’s place in the standings."
It was Senna’s night as he set the record for the most matches played for Villarreal with 220. The Brazilian midfielder did so in style, collecting a loose ball and firing it from 30 yards out into the left corner of the net to put the visitors ahead.
Carzola then lobbed Zaragoza goalkeeper Leo Franco to double Villarreal’s score in the 18th.
Zaragoza improved after the break, but Carzola exploited the hole left by Contini’s absence with a pass that Nilmar converted into his eighth goal of the season in the 65th.
Zaragoza’s loss spoiled manager Javier Aguirre’s home debut at La Romareda stadium.
"I continue to believe that we haven’t had much time to work, that we are still getting to know a method and style, but the reality is that in two weeks we have only got one point," the former Mexico manager said.
Zaragoza’s Sinama Pongolle was substituted in the first half for a leg injury.
An inspired Carlos Kameni in goal helped Espanyol hold on at Vicente Calderon Stadium for its second away win of the season.
The Barcelona club secured fourth place with 25 points, while Atletico remained sixth with 20.
After a frenetic beginning, Luis Garcia gave Espanyol the lead in the 22nd from the penalty spot after the referee ruled that Atletico’s Jose Reyes had used his hand to block Jose Callejon’s free kick in the area.
Atletico pressed forward and Kameni made a series of saves capped by consecutive reflex blocks from point-blank range before Cardosa Tiago blasted in the third rebound try to even the score at the end of the first half.
In the 53rd, Joan Verdu raced in to fire home Espanyol’s second from a rebound that Atletico keeper David de Gea could not control.
Atletico’s Sergio Aguero beat Kameni with a low right-footed shot to once again even the score in the 66th.
Osvaldo scored his fourth goal of the season in the 78th to secure the win. The Argentine striker volleyed Luis Garcia’s cross from the right side into the top right corner of the net.
"We are moving forward step by step, our team is excited," said Espanyol midfielder Javier Marquez. "The truth is we played a great game against a great rival."
Atletico coach Enrique Sanchez Flores was sent from the touchline right before the final whistle for protesting.
At the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, Frederic Kanoute put Sevilla ahead at the half-hour mark with a ground shot, but Getafe struck twice in a two-minute period to turn the match around.
Getafe’s Manuel del Moral equalized in the 57th from the penalty spot after Abdoulay Konko handled in the area, and Nicolas "Miku" Fedor fired a long cross past Sevilla ‘keeper Andres Palop in the 59th.
Pedro Rios completed Getafe’s comeback in the 77th scoring with a right-footed strike after a poor clearance by the Sevilla defense.
With its second away win of the season, Getafe climbed to ninth on 17 points.
Sevilla has now lost two straight home games and remained seventh with 20 points.
On Sunday, it’s: Sporting Gijon vs. Real Sociedad; Hercules vs. Levante; Racing Santander vs. Deportivo La Coruna; Mallorca vs. Malaga; Athletic Bilbao vs. Osasuna; and Valencia vs. Almeria.