Villarreal beat Almeria to tighten grip on third

Updated: Jan 04, 2011, 09:57 AM IST

Madrid: Villarreal cemented their grip on third place when Jose Catala and Borja Valero struck in a 2-0 home win over La Liga strugglers Almeria on Monday.

The victory trimmed the gap on Real Madrid to five points ahead of the second-placed team`s visit to city rivals Getafe in Monday`s late kickoff (2100 GMT), when Brazilian playmaker Kaka could make his return after knee surgery.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to climb above Espanyol into fifth when they were held 0-0 at home by Racing Santander.

Atletico are sixth with 27 points from 17 matches, one behind Espanyol who lost 2-1 at fourth-placed Valencia (31) on Sunday.

Real Mallorca were 3-0 winners at home to Hercules on Monday and are ninth. A late goal from midfielder Braulio snatched a 2-1 triumph for Real Zaragoza over visiting Real Sociedad that lifted them off the bottom of the table.

Zaragoza are 18th, level on 13 points with 19th-placed Almeria.

Catala put Villarreal ahead in the 22nd minute when Almeria failed to track the defender`s run and he headed Valero`s curling free kick in off the underside of the crossbar.

Valero added to his assist with a goal in the 58th as he struck the ball over the Almeria wall and inside the near post.

Champions Barcelona have a five-point lead over Real Madrid following their 2-1 win over Levante at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

Bureau Report