Spanish La Liga Roundup, Jan. 17
Valencia and Mallorca both produced convincing wins on Sunday to
stay in contention for Champions League football next season, while
Racing Santander's teenage forward Sergio Canales scored another
dazzling goal to give his team a 1-1 draw against Valladolid.
In Valencia, David Villa scored a brace and Ever Banega and David Silva also scored as Valencia overwhelmed 10-man Villarreal 4-1 to stay third.
Banega picked up Silva's pass and drilled a shot into the top corner to open the scoring after just six minutes at the Mestalla stadium.
Francisco "Kiko" Olivas was then sent off for fouling Villa as he burst into the box and the Spain striker stepped up to convert the resultant penalty in 28th minute, although television replays suggested the foul may have happened outside the penalty area.
Silva got the third after with a well placed shot following a poor clearance by Joan Capdevila in the 56th.
Villa almost made it 4-0 when his shot struck the crossbar moments before Nilmar pulled a goal back for Villarreal after a mix-up between defender Alexis Ruano and goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez gave the Brazilian an easy tap-in.
But Villa scored his second - and 100th goal for Valencia - in injury-time to join Barcelona's Lionel Messi as the league's joint-top scorer with14 goals.
"We just need to keep playing like this, focusing on one game at a time," Silva said.
Barcelona tops the table with 46 points, Real Madrid has 41, while Valencia has 38 points - five more than Mallorca, which extended its perfect home record in the league to nine victories.
In Mallorca, Mario Suarez and Chori Castro led the home side to a 2-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna to go fourth.
Suarez was unmarked in the area to volley a bouncing ball into the net in the 46th minute and give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Castro doubled the advantage in the 53rd after Deportivo again failed to clear a high bouncing ball. The Mallorca striker broke free on goal to fire an angled shot through goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia's legs.
"It was our best game of the first half of the season," said Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano after his club past Deportivo, which is fifth with 31 points.
Canales' impressive debut season continued as the teenage forward scored a 60th-minute equalizer as Racing Santander drew 1-1 with Valladolid to stay unbeaten for five matches and move to 20 points.
Canales controlled Pedro Munitis' curving pass into the area before lobbing goalkeeper Justo Villar with his weaker right foot.
"We won and that's what was important," Canales, who was watched by about a dozen international scouts at El Sardinero stadium.
The 18-year-old Canales had scored two impressive goals last week in Racing's victory over Sevilla, prompting Spain coach Vicente del Bosque to say earlier Sunday that he could even make the national team.
Valladolid led through Pablo Pinillos' 19th-minute own-goal.
In Sunday's other games, Almeria and Tenerife drew 1-1, Zaragoza and Xerez played to a scoreless draw and Malaga moved out of the relegation places with a 1-0 win over Getafe after Nabil Baha's 85th-minute goal.
Atletico Madrid continued its recent revival with a third straight victory, a 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon.
Diego Forlan shrugged off a defender to score with an individual effort in the 14th minute before Diego Castro equalized for Sporting from the penalty spot in the 34th.
Forlan then headed Tomas Ujfalusi's cross back for Paulo Assuncao to slot home for 2-1 in the 53rd.
The Uruguay striker hobbled off with a bruised ankle after a tough challenge but his replacement Ibrahima Balde scored his first goal for Atletico in the 66th minute after pouncing on a loose ball following an effort by Sergio Aguero.
Luis Moran pulled another goal back for Sporting in injury time but it came too late for the visiting side.
Portugal midfielder Tiago also made his debut for Atletico, which moved on to 23 points, one less than Sporting.
On Saturday, leader Barcelona opened up a five-point advantage over second-place Real Madrid with a 4-0 rout of Sevilla as Madrid lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao. Osasuna beat Espanyol 2-0.
Even with all three of its recent transfer signings - Chile striker Humberto Suazo, winger Eliseu and Jiri Jarosik - in its starting lineup, Zaragoza couldn't snap a winless run that now stretches to 10 games.
Zaragoza stayed second bottom with 14 points, while Xerez is last with eight.
All three promoted teams are in the relegation spots now that Tenerife dropped into 18th with 16 points. Almeria has 18 points while Valladolid and Malaga are on 17.
All games observed a minute's silence following the earthquake in Haiti, with Racing pledging 15 percent of gate receipts to relief efforts.