The chase for the final UEFA Champions League spot in the Spanish Liga intensified on Sunday as Valencia CF lost 3-0 at RCD Espanyol, enabling Club Atlético de Madrid and RC Deportivo La Coruña to boost their respective challenges.
Espanyol started the day perilously close to the relegation zone but rose to 14th and opened up a four-point buffer from the bottom three thanks to strikes in the final 24 minutes from Román Martínez, Nicolas Pareja and Nenê's penalty. That result opened the way for Atlético to close to within a single point of fourth-placed Valencia in the late game, as well as overtaking Villarreal CF into fifth spot after their 2-0 defeat by Sevilla FC on Saturday, and the capital club did not spurn the opportunity as Diego Forlán scored at either end of their 2-0 success at Real Betis Balompié.
Seventh-placed Deportivo are now three points behind Valencia after a solitary Lassad Nouioui goal pushed them past Real Valladolid CF. The bottom end of the standings also tightened with RC Recreativo de Huelva repeating the feat of CD Numancia on Saturday by winning to move off the foot of the table. Their 2-1 win at CA Osasuna lifted them within a point of safety. Real Sporting de Gijón remain in the drop zone, a point better off than Recre, after a 1-1 draw at home with Athletic Club Bilbao moved them on to 34 points – the same tally as Getafe CF, 2-1 losers at RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, UD Almería won 2-0 at Real Racing Club.
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