La Liga Roundup, Apr. 11

Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao kept up their chase for a Champions

League place next season with victories in the Spanish league on

Sunday.

Mallorca beat third-place Valencia 3-2 to join Sevilla, which

is fourth, on 51 points while Athletic cruised to a 4-1 win over

Almeria to stay three points off the last qualifying spot for

Europe’s top-tier competition.

Chori Castro and Pierre Webo scored first-half goals for

Mallorca before Jordi Alba reduced Valencia’s deficit just after

the restart. Valencia midfielder Manuel Fernandes’ own goal in the

63rd minute proved to be the winner, with the visitor pulling a

goal back with four minutes left through Pablo Hernandez.

Javi Martinez scored two goals – one of them following an

impressive dribble around three defenders inside the area – for

Athletic while Igor Gabilondo and Fernando Llorente were also on

target.

Also on Sunday, Toni Moral’s 84th-minute equalizer earned

relegation-battling Racing Santander a 1-1 draw at Deportivo La

Coruna, Osasuna beat Zaragoza 2-0 and Espanyol was a 3-0 winner

over Atletico Madrid.

Castro beat Valencia goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez with a shot in

the seventh minute as Mallorca started well and Webo headed home a

corner in the 22nd minute for 2-0.

Alba scored from a counterattack just after halftime but

Valencia’s frail defense was at fault for Mallorca’s third,

Fernandes sending Castro’s center into the roof of his own net with

Aritz Aduritz threatening to tap in at the far post.

Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate saved Nicola Zigic’s volley

before Hernandez slipped a ball home with four minutes remaining.

David Silva could have equalized for Valencia in injury time but he

shot over.

Spain striker David Villa watched from the bench after being

rested by Valencia coach Unai Emery.

Athletic peppered Almeria’s goal from the start and Martinez

shrugged off his marker to head home a corner kick for the

13th-minute opener.

Gabilondo doubled the lead in the 32nd after unleashing a

left-footed shot from outside the area that squeezed past

goalkeeper Diego Alves and went in off the near post.

Martinez was left shaking his head in disbelief after his

slick skills made it 3-0 in the 49th minute. The 21-year-old

midfielder broke into the area, dribbled around three defenders

before tucking his shot in at the near post past Alves.

Llorente made up for an earlier penalty miss when he poked

Gaizka Toquero’s cross past Alves.

“Our main rival is ourselves,” Athletic coach Joaquin

Caparros said of finishing the season in the European places. “We

need to be strong at home because if we follow this line of results

in away games, we’ll get the results.”

Substitute Pablo Piatti scored for Almeria in the 71st, but

the visitor was never in the contest at the San Mames.

Ivan “Riki” Sanchez took advantage of miscommunication

between goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti and defender Oriol Lozano to put

Deportivo ahead after just 33 seconds at El Riazor stadium.

Deportivo’s winless streak was stretched to six games,

however, when Moral headed home Pedro Munitis’ cross from the right

to give Racing a much-needed point as it looks to avoid the drop.

Racing and Zaragoza share 32 points – six more than

18th-place Tenerife, which is in the last relegation spot.

Carlos Arrenda put Osasuna ahead against Zaragoza after two

minutes before midfielder Kristian Vadocz sealed victory in the

90th minute with a superb effort from 35 meters (yards).

Atletico goalkeeper David De Gea continued his impressive

debut campaign by saving two point-blank chances by Pablo Osvaldo

inside 23 minutes.

But the teenager was out of position in the 47th minute when

Victor Ruiz turned home a cross while positioned on the ground.

Osvaldo finally beat De Gea in the 67th minute with a

well-directed header for his sixth goal since joining the club in

January.

Ivan Alonso scored the third, in injury time, after Atletico

was reduced to 10 men following Tomas Ujfalusi’s red card for a

dangerous tackle.

“In games like these, with such intensity and so open, the

work multiplies and honestly, right now, we can’t compete with

that,” said Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who guided his

team into the Europa League semifinals on Thursday. “We would have

preferred a slower-paced game.”

Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-0 on Saturday to go clear at the

top of the standings with 80 points. Madrid has 77 points, while

Valencia has 56.

On Saturday, it was: Malaga 1, Sevilla 2; Tenerife 0,

Valladolid 0; Villarreal 1, Sporting Gijon 0; and Xerez 0, Getafe

1.