Villarreal draws to pull level with Real Madrid
BARCELONA, SPAIN: 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 six 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.
"Those were a lot of victories, but they covered up how we were playing. We need to rest our minds and then get back to training," Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia said. "This can help us to improve."
Elsewhere, Celta Vigo got two goals from John Guidetti to earn a 4-3 win after weathering bottom-side Levante's spirited second-half rally, while Sevilla downed Malaga 2-1.
Guidetti turned in Iago Aspas' back pass to break through in the first half, and five minutes later the striker chipped home his second.
Aspas added a third from a solo effort, but Celta staggered after Levante's Deyverson and Pedro Lopez scored twice in a three-minute span with 20 minutes left.
Fabian Orellana's goal appeared to have finished Levante off, until Jose Morales added drama to the end after scoring in the 88th.
"We played more with heart than with good football, now we must start winning games," Levante goalie Diego Marino said.
Manuel "Nolito" Agudo watched from the stands amid speculation of a transfer to Barcelona, as his Celta broke a three-game losing streak to remain in fifth place.
Sevilla stayed in sixth after striker Kevin Gameiro scored two goals just before halftime to help beat Malaga for its ninth consecutive home win.
Gameiro ran onto a long free kick by Adil Rami and lifted the ball over goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to open for the hosts before halftime.
He made it 11 league goals this season just two minutes later when Sevilla struck on the break, this time using a deft flick with the inside of his boot to beat Kameni.
Charles scored in the second half for Malaga, which had its first defeat in eight rounds.
"This team needs confidence and Kevin showed that today," Sevilla manager Unai Emery said. "He has a knack for scoring and it's our job to create chances for him."
Sevilla's Vicente Iborra and Malaga's Arthur Boka were sent off for two yellow cards each.
Also, Real Sociedad midfielder Xabi Prieto earned and converted a penalty in the 75th to salvage a 1-1 draw at home with Deportivo La Coruna, after Luis Alberto put the visitors in front. Sociedad hit the crossbar twice in the final minutes, and settled for a point.
On Sunday, it's: Las Palmas vs. Atletico, Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao, Madrid vs. Sporting Gijon, and Valencia vs. Rayo Vallecano.