Soccer

Rayo Vallecano beats Celta Vigo, Espanyol wins at Osasuna

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The Canadian Press
4/7/2013 3:22:25 PM
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BARCELONA, Spain -- Nine-man Atletico Madrid sputtered to a 0-0 draw at Getafe Sunday in the Spanish league, as Diego Simeone's team fell further adrift of Real Madrid in their fight for a second-place finish.

Atletico has only one win in its last five games and failed to match Madrid's victory from Saturday to fall four points behind the defending champions. Barcelona is cruising to the title 13 points clear.

"The league is long and our rivals are starting the find the way to neutralize us," said Simeone. "Perhaps we had more clarity to our play in other moments."

After a rough first half plagued by fouls and void of scoring chances, Getafe forward Abdelaziz Barrada went closest three minutes after the break when he managed to draw a diving save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Atletico midfielder Mario Suarez received his second booking in the 72nd minute, and defender Diego Godin followed suit in stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Jonas' stoppage-time goal gave Valencia a 2-1 victory over 10-man Valladolid , while Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol both eased to 2-0 away wins.

Valladolid looked set to get a hard-earned draw after rallying to level with 10 men until Jonathan Viera picked out Jonas striding to the first post to send his cross into the far corner with a bouncing header.

The Brazilian forward's last-gasp goal moved Valencia up into fifth place, two points behind fourth-place Real Sociedad and Spain's last Champions League spot.

The lucrative berth to play in Europe's top-tier competitions next season is important for all teams, but even more so for the heavily indebted Valencia whose president Manuel Llorente quit on Friday amid ongoing financial turmoil at the club.

Valencia took the lead in the 39th when Valladolid defender Mikel Balenziaga turned Tino Costa's corner kick into his own net. And the hosts appeared set to go up 2-0 after Henrique Sereno was sent off with his second yellow card for fouling Roberto Soldado in the area.

But goalkeeper Dani Hernandez saved Soldado's resulting penalty in the 57th, and forward Oscar Gonzalez volleyed in Valladolid's 71st-minute equalizer from a cross by Antonio Rukavina.

Rayo beat relegation-threatened Celta Vigo with goals by Francisco "Piti" Medina and Andrija Delibasic.

Piti used a clever flick with the back of his heel to turn Alhassane "Lass" Bangoura's pass into the net for his 13th goal of the season in the 14th.

Celta improved in the second half but failed to threaten Rayo's goal, and Delibasic tapped in Jose Casado's cross to secure all three points in the 83rd.

Rayo's first away win in six games kept it in the fight for a Europa League spot.

Rayo coach Paco Jemez called his team's season so far "extraordinary" for a cash-strapped club that had to sell Miguel "Michu" Perez last summer and was expected to struggle to stay up.

"You can always improve and aspire to do things that nobody has done before," Jemez said. "We have to fight until the end. (Europa League) is within our reach."

Celta has taken just one point from the past five games and is three points from safety with eight rounds to play.

Espanyol won 2-0 at Osasuna after Ghana forward Wakaso Mubarak went on at halftime to set up one goal and score another.

After Sergio Garcia had forced Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez to push his strike onto the crossbar, Espanyol broke through in the 51st when Hector Moreno headed in Wakaso's out-swinging corner.

Wakaso sealed the victory with Osasuna searching for the equalizer in stoppage time when he went past Fernandez outside the area and floated the ball home from a tight angle.

Espanyol's second straight away win lifted it mid-table, while Osasuna's home losing streak reached three games.

"This is an important step," said Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre, who took over the Barcelona-based team midseason with it in last place. "Of course it is good haul to now be 13 points clear, but there are still eight rounds left."

Barcelona routed Mallorca 5-0 on Saturday without the injured Lionel Messi, while Madrid thrashed Levante 5-1, Real Sociedad beat Malaga 4-2, and Deportivo La Coruna edged Real Zaragoza 3-2.

Real Betis rolled to a 5-1 win at Granada on Friday. Sevilla hosts Athletic Bilbao Monday.

Soccer Ball (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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