Aldo Duscher's own goal decided the match billed as a title eliminator and put Valencia CF in pole position to be crowned Primera División champions after beating RC Deportivo La Coruña 1-0 today.
The winner arrived in the 68th minute when the Argentinian midfield player got in the way of Pablo Aimar's whipped free-kick from the left and sliced the ball past José Molina. Duscher was the unlucky man to decide a match that either side could have had wrapped up by half-time.
Back to the top
It lifted the team from the Mestalla back to the top of the Spanish first division summit, a point ahead of Real Madrid CF. And three wins from their remaining three matches will see the league title come to Valencia for the first time in 31 years.
A glut of chances came and went as the first half between these pretenders to Madrid's crown remarkably finished goalless, with Valencia's Rubén Baraja and Deportivo's Roy Makaay guilty of missing the clearest chances.
Valencia dominated the second half, coming forward in waves at times with some spectacular passing football. Baraja left the goal frame shaking with an overhead kick that hit the bar, and Kily Gonzalez was a persistent threat. Makaay had one genuine chance after the break, but wasted it with a weak header.
In deep trouble
Real Zaragoza are in serious danger of dropping out of the top flight after conceding two soft goals in their 2-1 defeat against a Deportivo Alavés side still hoping to secure a European place. César Rebosio bundled into his own net on eleven minutes and Delfí Geli added a second early in the second half when his free-kick went straight through a poorly constructed wall and into the net. Marcos Vales Illanes pulled one back for Zaragoza on 75 minutes after good work by Savo Milosevic, though it was too little, too late.
Athletic Club Bilbao's hopes of a return to Europe suffered a severe blow as they slipped to their fourth defeat in five games, a 1-0 reverse at home to Sevilla FC. Francisco Gallardo grabbed the only goal of the game as he latched on to a fine pass from José Reyes before netting with the outside of his foot.
Tamudo on target
Uruguayan striker Antonio Pacheco opened the scoring for RCD Espanyol in a 3-1 defeat of Villarreal CF when he finished off a well-worked move after just eight minutes. Raúl Tamudo then struck his 15th goal of the season after he clipped home with his first touch after Pacheco and Martin Posse had carved open the Villarreal defence. Substitute Francisco Palencia wrapped up victory with a glancing header on 76 minutes, before Rodolfo Arruabarrena clawed one back for the visitors just before the final whistle.
RCD Mallorca midfield player Vicente Engonga did his side no favours when he was sent off within eight minutes of coming on in the second half against Málaga CF. However opposition defender Fernando Sanz was dismissed soon after, leaving both sides to play the last quarter with ten men and the game ended in a goalless draw.
Two for Tomás
Real Betis Balompié stayed on course for a European place after a conclusive 3-1 win against relegation-threatened Real Sociedad. Portuguese striker João Henrique Tomás notched a neatly taken double either side of half-time, before Benjamín Zarandona wrapped it up with penalty after Joaquín Sánchez had been felled.
Tote secured a first win in seven games for Real Valladolid when he snapped up a Luis Javier García pass, checked past two defenders and slotted past goalkeeper Juan Unzué. The 1-0 defeat for visiting Club Atlético Osasuna put them back in the relegation zone.
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