Villarreal draw blank against Real Betis; Celta survive Levante fightback
Villarreal's scoreless draw with Real Betis was good enough for it to provisionally pull level on points with third-place Real Madrid in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Villarreal's best scoring opportunity came just moments after kickoff of the evenly contested match at El Madrigal Stadium, when Roberto Soldado sent the ball off the far upright.
Fourth-place Villarreal's winning streak ended at seven straight rounds, but it equaled Madrid on points, and moved within four points of leader Atletico Madrid and two points of Barcelona before all three title rivals play on Sunday.
Celta de Vigo 4, Levante 3
Celta Vigo ended a three-game losing streak by beating Levante 4-3 in an entertaining game at Balaidos.
John Guidetti struck twice before half-time for the hosts and Iago Aspas netted after the break to seemingly wrap up the points, but two goals in as many minutes from Deyverson and Pedro Lopez put Levante right back in contention. Fabian Orellana then scored after 84 minutes to give the Galicians breathing space, although Pedro Morales netted five minutes later to ensure a tense finish.
Celta stay in fifth place thanks to the victory, while Levante stay bottom of the Primera Division. Former Manchester City trainee Guidetti put Eduardo Berizzo's side in charge with two goals in the space of five minutes, first tapping in a pass from Aspas, then chipping the ball over Diego Marino and in off the post.
Aspas then smashed the ball past the hapless goalkeeper after racing into a gap in the visiting defence. Deyverson's header gave Levante a glimmer of hope and then Lopez volleyed in at the near post to give them a fighting chance. A 10-minute spell of pressure for Levante followed as they searched for an equaliser, only for Orellana to latch onto a pass by Aspas to beat Marino and put the game out of the visitors' reach.
But Morales made sure Celta had to sweat to take all the points, pouncing on the rebound after Sergio Alvarez parried a shot from Roger.
Sevilla 2, Malaga 1
A quick-fire double from Kevin Gameiro helped Sevilla beat Malaga 2-1 in a fierce Andalusian derby which saw both teams finish the game with 10 men.
The Frenchman struck twice in the space of 99 seconds at the end of the first half to put Sevilla in charge and although Charles reduced the deficit after 71 minutes, Malaga could not find an equalizer. The visitors were handed a late advantage when Vicente Iborra was sent off for two bookings, but Arthur Boka followed him down the tunnel just a few minutes later, and their eight-game unbeaten run in the league was brought to an end.
Sevilla, meanwhile, were left to celebrate a ninth successive home victory as Unai Emery's men continued their pursuit of a top-four place. Sevilla went into the game on a high after thumping local rivals Real Betis 4-0 in midweek to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.
And after a lively and evenly matched start to another Andulusian derby they took the lead after 39 minutes when Adil Rami sent in a free-kick towards Gameiro, who cleverly chipped the ball over Carlos Kameni. Just moments later the Frenchman tapped in a pass from Vitolo to complete a counter-attack and hit his 11th league goal of the season.
Malaga improved in the second half while Sevilla wilted, and Charles pulled a goal back by turning the ball in at the far post. Substitute Iborra was then sent off 20 minutes after coming on to seemingly give Malaga a lifeline, earning a second booking for an ugly tackle, but the numbers were evened up when Boka picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute to also see red.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report