Valencia, Bilbao keep up pressure for Champions League berth
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Valencia and Athletic Bilbao kept up their strong run of form on Sunday in the chase for the final Champions League spot in Spain.
With six rounds remaining, Sevilla is fourth in the league, which is the last berth for Europe’s top club competition.
Getafe is one point behind Sevilla after it salvaged a 2-2 draw at Valladolid despite playing with 10 men.
Valencia is sixth, three points behind Sevilla, after beating Levante 3-1 at its Mestalla Stadium, while seventh-placed Bilbao is six points adrift of Sevilla following its 3-2 victory at home over Rayo Vallecano.
“We knew that this was a fundamental match for us to keep fighting for our objective of the Champions League,” Santi Mina said after scoring his brace to lead Valencia to the derby win.
Valencia has lost just once in 14 rounds, reached the final of the Copa del Rey against Barcelona, and is in the Europa League quarterfinals. Bilbao, for its part, has only lost three times in 18 rounds since coach Gaizka Garitano took over in December.
“To be honest, I don’t keep track of the point differences to other teams,” Garitano said. “(But) I do know that we are going to win more games.”
But Soler responded by setting up Guedes to restore the lead a minute later. Soler then played a part in Mina’s second goal in the 63rd, when his shot hit the post and fell to Mina to push home.
Valencia’s Cristiano Piccini was carried off on a stretcher in the first half and taken to the local hospital to be treated for a hard knock to his torso.
Inaki Williams scored two goals to fuel Bilbao’s win over 10-man Rayo, which lost Luis Advincula to a second yellow card in the 51st.
But the hosts needed Raul Garcia to ensure the victory with a goal before Raul de Tomas scored Rayo’s second goal with five minutes to play.
Jorge Molina converted a penalty on the last kick of the match to snatch the draw for Getafe at Valladolid.
Molina converted the spot kick following a foul by Oscar Plano on Getafe’s Hugo Duro in the area.
Getafe’s Mathias Olivera was sent off for a second booking in the 63rd.
Getafe also lost left back Vitorio Antunes when his right leg buckled under him, requiring him to be carried off on a stretcher in the first half. Coach Jose Bordalas said the injury looked “serious.”
Joan Jordan dipped a free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net in the 85th to earn Eibar a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad.
Villarreal escaped from the relegation zone after Samuel Chukwueze struck on a breakaway early in its 1-0 win at Girona.