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Spain round-up: Champions losing touch

Valencia CF's hopes of retaining their title receded after losing 1-0 at Athletic Club Bilbao.

Valencia CF's hopes of retaining the Primera División title receded after losing 1-0 at Athletic Club Bilbao.

Penalty saved
After all the top three won last week, the champions needed victory today but the match turned after Anthony Réveillère's 36th-minute penalty was excellently saved by Daniel Aranzubia. Two minutes later, Joseba Etxeberría scored at the other end with a superb lob, and Athletic held on, helped by the sending-off early in the second half of Mista for a second bookable offence. Valencia now trail leaders Real Madrid CF by eight points.

Celta in contention
RC Celta de Vigo remain in contention for a UEFA Champions League place after securing a 1-0 victory at Club Atlético de Madrid. The victory ensured Celta end the weekend fifth in the Primera División, five points behind Valencia. Atlético began the day level on points with Celta, but were forced to accept defeat after Eduardo Berizzo chipped in from the edge of the box three minutes from the end following a Gustavo López-inspired counterattack.

Improving Recreativo
Real Betis Balompié's bid for a European place suffered a setback as they were held 1-1 by bottom-placed RC Recreativo de Huelva. Capi put Betis ahead in the tenth minute, but just after the hour mark Xisco equalised - and improving Recreativo only missed out on victory when Emilio Viqueira's penalty hit the crossbar, but they are now six points from escaping the relegation zone.

Late penalty
RCD Espanyol moved out of the bottom three as they secured a 2-1 win against Málaga CF. Raúl Tamudo put Espanyol ahead on 52 minutes not long after Málaga goalkeeper Pedro Contreras had been sent off for a professional foul. Manu equalised 13 minutes later, but Espanyol claimed victory when Tamudo's added-time penalty beat substitute goalkeeper Francesc Arnau after Cleber Romero was adjudged to have committed a foul in a move where Martin Posse appeared to have scored the winner - only for a spot kick to be awarded instead.

Goalless draws
Deportivo Alavés took over in the relegation zone as they drew 0-0 with FC Barcelona, who remain ninth but still only four points above the bottom three. Club Atlético Osasuna are in 15th, level on points with both Alavés below them and Espanyol above, after their goalless game against RCD Mallorca. Sevilla FC's trip to Real Valladolid ended in the same score.