Espanyol boost survival hopes

MADRID: In-form Espanyol boosted their survival hopes and at the same time put a huge dent in Valencia’s Champions League hopes with a convincing 3-0 victory on Sunday.

Second half goals from Roman Martinez, Nicolas Pareja and Nene made it 16 points from 18 for Espanyol who climb four points above the relegation zone. For Valencia it was a major setback as they missed a golden

opportunity to pull away from Villarreal, a point behind in

fifth. A few weeks ago Espanyol looked destined for the second division but Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino has found the magic formula at the right time with five wins and a draw in the last six matches.

Atletico Madrid capitalised on Valencia’s slip with a 2-0 win over Real Betis to move a point behind their rivals. Uruguayan international Diego Forlan scored both goals to take his season’s tally to 25 just two behind the league’s top-scorer Samuel Eto’o. Deportivo La Coruna are still in with an outside shot of Champions League football defeating Valladolid 1-0 to move three points behind Valencia.

New Getafe coach Michel tasted defeat in his first match in charge losing 2-1 to Real Mallorca to leave the club staring relegation in the face.

A disastrous mistake from Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic gifted Mallorca the winning goal on 68 minutes with Aritz Aduriz pouncing on his slack goalkick to slot home. Getafe sacked Victor Munoz on Monday after three successive defeats but a new coach did not bring a change of fortune.

Recretivo Huelva scored a crucial late winner to down relegation rivals Osasuna 2-1 and are now just a point from safety. Defender Nasief Morris scored a brilliant volleyed winner in the dying seconds of the match to boost Recretivo’s chances of staying up.

Osasuna stay two points above the bottom three after the defeat. Sporting Gijon were frustrated by a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao.


SUNDERLAND: Everton are on the verge of wrapping up a place in Europe — although in the revamped UEFA Cup which next season will be known as the Europa Cup — after claiming a 2-0 victory at Sunderland that left the hosts dangerously close to the relegation zone on Sunday.

David Moyes’ side already have an FA Cup final clash against Chelsea to look forward to later this month and are almost certain to have European football on their agenda again next season following this convincing victory. South African midfielder Steven Pienaar opened the scoring early in the second half and record-signing Marouane Fellaini’s late strike ensured Everton leapfrogg Aston Villa.

Although Villa can regain fifth place with a win over relegation-threatened Hull, Moyes’ men are now just one point away from wrapping up a spot in the Europa League.