Sunderland appoint Di Canio

Atletico Madrid were unable to leapfrog Real Madrid into second

spot as they were held by Valencia.

A 1-1 draw in the Vicente Calderon stadium was not enough to

move above their city rivals as Valencia produced a spirited

display to keep their own Champions League hopes alive.

Jonas surprised the home side inside five minutes but Radamel

Falcao promptly beat the offside trap at the other end to stab the

ball home and restore parity within a minute.

Despite home pressure after the break, that’s how it stayed and

the result leaves Atletico a point behind Real with Valencia just a

point outside the top four themselves.

Earlier on Sunday, bottom-club Deportivo La Coruna recorded

back-to-back victories for the first time this season after a

narrow win over fellow strugglers Real Mallorca.

Victor Casadesus gave Gregorio Manzano’s side the lead but a

wonderful goal from Silvio put Deportivo back on level terms before

the break.

Veteran defender Carlos Marchena gave the visitors the lead

early in the second half and Riki extended the advantage, before

Alfaro scored late on to set up a tense finish. But Deportivo held

on to keep their hopes of survival alive with the Galician side now

just four points from safety.

Osasuna were another side whose hopes of avoiding relegation

were handed a huge boost after they came from a goal down to win at

Valladolid in fine fashion.

An own goal by Ruben gave the hosts an early lead but two goals

by Kike Sola within 10 minutes after half-time put Jose

Mendilibar’s side ahead. Miguel De Las Cuevas then scored his first

goal for the club to make sure of the points and lift Osasuna seven

points clear of the drop zone.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad’s hopes of a Champions League place

suffered a setback as they were held to a draw at Espanyol. In

fact, they left the Cornella-El Prat grateful for a point after

Javi Lopez’s own-goal inside the final quarter of an hour denied

the hosts all three points.

It was the second time Sociedad had come from behind in the

match, David Zurutuza scoring either side of strikes from Sergio

Garcia and Christian Stuani in an eventful first half.

Sociedad remain in fourth but are now just a point clear of

Malaga in fifth as the race for the final Champions League spot

heats up.

The Italian, who left Swindon in February, will take charge from

Monday morning as the replacement for Martin O’Neill who was sacked

on Saturday after the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Chairman Ellis Short said: “Paolo is hugely enthused by the

challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and

raring to get started.

“The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to

ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.

“I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with

Paolo joining us.

“Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this

season.

“They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home

and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us

in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve.

“That remains our primary aim.”

The Sunderland job is only Di Canio’s second in management after

his spell at Swindon and he was a big success in Wiltshire, guiding

the Robins to promotion to League One.

Di Canio, 44, played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan

before making a move to Britain where he played for Celtic,

Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.

Within minutes of Di Canio’s appointment, David Miliband

announced he has resigned from his role as vice-chairman and

non-executive director of the club due to Di Canio’s “past

political statements”.

Within seven games of the Premier League season left Sunderland

are just one point above the relegation zone.