FC Barcelona can wrest the title away from Real Madrid CF with a victory against Villarreal CF on Sunday after the champions were beaten 3-0 by Valencia CF, while Sevilla FC homed in on a UEFA Champions League spot with a 3-1 victory against RCD Mallorca.
Madrid gave the impression of a shell-shocked side at Mestalla following their 6-2 humbling by Barça last weekend and they were never in the hunt for three points from the moment Juan Mata, who joined Valencia on a free transfer from Los Merengues in summer 2007, drove through legs of Iker Casillas on 28 minutes after David Silva and David Villa had combined to slide in the midfielder.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Madrid backed off Silva and his low near-post effort slipped through the grasp of Casillas. The momentum showed no signs of shifting after the break either. Rubén Baraja fired a presentable chance over from close range but made no mistake with a controlled volley from outside the area midway through the second half to round off a convincing victory and cement fourth spot in the table.
Sevilla remain four points ahead of them in third, however, as they came from behind to down Mallorca. Aritz Aduriz's early goal from a narrow angle threatened the hosts' ambitions but their response was emphatic. Sevilla hit both posts before Luis Fabiano was fouled by Iván Ramis and the penalty was nonchalantly converted by Frédéric Kanouté (33). Fabiano then burst into the area on the hour and drilled his finish inside the near post before Jesús Navas cut in from the right and struck a fierce third into the far corner.
Saturday's final match saw Athletic Club Bilbao rest a number of key players ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona on Wednesday but the San Mamés outfit were still too strong for struggling Real Betis Balompié, Ion Vélez with the 28th-minute winner in a 1-0 success.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.