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Mista magic moves Valencia top

Published: Sunday 18 April 2004, 23.37CET
Valencia CF reclaimed the leadership of the Spanish Primera División thanks to Mista's last-gasp strike. features

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Published: Sunday 18 April 2004, 23.37CET

Mista magic moves Valencia top

Valencia CF reclaimed the leadership of the Spanish Primera División thanks to Mista's last-gasp strike.

Valencia CF reclaimed the leadership of the Spanish Primera División on Sunday thanks to Mista's last-gasp strike against Real Sociedad de Fútbol in a 2-2 draw at the Mestalla.

Prolific Mista
With five games of the season to go, Valencia and Madrid both have 70 points, but Rafael Benítez's side are top by virtue of their better head-to-head record against the reigning champions. All the action kicked off in a blistering ten-minute spell in the second half with Xabi Alonso striking first in the 64th minute and Valeri Karpin doubling the lead soon after. Vicente Rodríguez halved the deficit in the 71st minute before Mista, second behind Ronaldo in the goalscoring charts, collected his 18th league strike of the season.

Madrid win
Ten-man Real Madrid CF had temporarily returned to the summit on Saturday evening following a 2-1 defeat of Club Atlético de Madrid at the Vicente Calderón. Santiago Solari opened the scoring against his former team-mates in the fifth minute, tucking away a cross from Luís Figo. Veljko Paunovic levelled proceedings on the cusp of half-time from the penalty spot but Iván Helguera secured a welcome three points with 13 minutes remaining. Francisco Pavón, who conceded the spot-kick, was sent off for his second bookable offence early in the second period

Solid Barça
FC Barcelona, meanwhile, took full advantage of RC Deportivo La Coruña's 1-1 draw against Real Valladolid FC on Saturday, brushing aside Málaga CF 3-0 in Sunday's late game to go third. Javier Saviola, Luis García and Phillip Cocu were all on target in the first half. Athletic Club Bilbao, meanwhile, consolidated their hopes of a UEFA Cup berth after a 4-0 home win against nine-man Real Zaragoza, for whom centre-backs Gabriel Milito and Álvaro received their marching orders midway through the second half. Francisco Yeste was twice on target while Joseba Etxeberria, with an acrobatic overhead kick, and Asier Del Horno were also in the goals.

Murcia relegated
Real Murcia CF became the first side to be relegated following a 1-0 defeat at home by Real Betis Balompié. Brazilian free-kick expert Marcos Assunção's unstoppable 22-metre curler in the third minute proved enough to ensure there is no way back for John Toshack's side, who are cast adrift at the bottom.

Six pointers.
RC Celta de Vigo, however, collected a vital three points in their battle against relegation, defeating Albacete Balompié 2-0 on their travels. The Galician side will nevertheless have been disappointed that RCD Espanyol, one position above them, overcame Club Atlético Osasuna 3-1. Elsewhere, UEFA Cup semi-finalists Villarreal CF edged out RCD Mallorca 2-1 while Brazilian striker Júlio Baptista plundered four goals as Sevilla FC dismantled Real Racing Club Santander 5-2.

Last updated: 19/04/04 13.40CET



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