Rossi lifts Villarreal 1-0 over Zaragoza in Spain
Giuseppe Rossi's second-half penalty gave Villarreal a 1-0 win over Zaragoza on Monday to strengthen the club's hold on fourth place in the Spanish league.
Rossi sent the spot kick into the right corner of the net in the 71st after Zaragoza midfielder Ponzio Leonardo had tackled the Italy striker in the area.
It was Rossi's 16th league goal of the season.
Villarreal's first win in three weeks boosted its chances of securing Spain's last Champions League spot and kept it within striking distance of Valencia, six points ahead in third place.
"We knew the importance of this game and how vital these points were," said Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido, whose team qualified for the semifinals of the Europa League earlier this week. "Our main goal is to reach the Champions League and today we have taken a good step in that direction."
Good goalkeeping saved several chances from both sides early on. Zaragoza keeper Antonio Doblas stopped Rossi twice in the first half, while Villarreal's Diego Lopez denied striker Ikechuwku Uche once in each half before Rossi put the hosts ahead for good.
Uche was sent off with his second yellow card in injury time for diving in the box when he could have shot from close range but opted to try and draw the spot kick.
Zaragoza's fourth straight away loss left it in the relegation zone in 18th place, trailing Malaga on their head-to-head record.
"The difference is always marked in the area and that's where they found their goal," Zaragoza coach Javier Aguirre said. "Now we only have to work and think about the next game and try to win it to escape this situation."
Over the weekend, Barcelona drew 1-1 at Real Madrid to stay eight points clear of its rival atop the table, while Valencia beat last-place Almeria 3-0.
Also, 10-man Athletic Bilbao rallied to beat Osasuna 2-1 and move into fifth place, two points clear of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid.
With six rounds to play, Almeria is seven points from safety, while 19th-place Hercules was three points behind Zaragoza.