Villarreal lose again, Depor out of drop zone

Madrid: Villarreal fell two points behind
rivals Valencia in the Champions League race as they crashed
to their second successive league defeat with a 1-0 loss at
Deportivo La Coruna.

Defender Alberto Lopo`s goal on the hour sealed three
vital points for Depor, who move out of the relegation zone,
as Villarreal failed to score for the second consecutive game

A set-piece undid Villarreal, with Ivan Riki heading down
a free-kick from the left and centre-back Lopo reacting first
to slide in a rare goal.

Villarreal, beaten at home by promoted Levante last time
out, should have equalised in the 82nd minute but substitute
Marco Ruben headed over from close range.

Depor move out of the relegation zone and are now three
points clear of Osasuna, who replace them in the bottom three.

Villarreal stay fourth, seven points ahead of Athletic
Bilbao, who travel to Real Mallorca on Monday.

Earlier, promoted duo Hercules and Levante did their
hopes of staying in the Spanish top flight the world of good
with wins over Real Zaragoza and Almeria respectively.

Levante moved out of the bottom three with a 1-0 home win
over fellow strugglers Almeria, who stay second from bottom.

Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo`s ninth league goal of
the campaign was enough to help Levante move two points clear
of the relegation places.

Hercules staged a late comeback to record a 2-1 win over
Zaragoza, scoring twice in the final ten minutes to turn the
game on its head.

Zargoza, one point above the bottom three, led thanks to
a fourth-minute goal from Braulio Rodriguez, but Francisco
Farinos equalised in the 80th minute and veteran French
striker David Trezeguet scored a late winner.

Hercules, the only team to beat league leaders Barcelona
in the league this season, move three points clear of the
relegation zone.

Malaga prop up the table but are only three points from
safety after a 2-2 comeback draw at home to Getafe on Sunday.

Getafe were 2-0 up after 23 minutes thanks to goals from
Venezuelan Miku Flores and Adrian Colunga, but former Real
Madrid player Julio Baptista scored a 79th-minute penalty to
pull a goal back and Jose Rondon equalised deep in stoppage

On Saturday, champions Barcelona dropped their first away
points of the season with a 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijon that
brought an end to their record run of 16 consecutive wins.

"I am not happy with the point as we always want to win,
but we are not invincible and we can lose or draw as we did in
Gijon," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Real Madrid will hope to capitalise on the slip when they
face Espanyol at the Cornella-El Prat stadium later on Sunday.

Victory would take Madrid to within five points of
Barcelona as they bid to prevent their arch-rivals from
winning a third successive league title.

Sixth-placed Espanyol have won eight out of their 10 home
matches, but Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino is aware of
the task ahead.

"Madrid don`t need the ball to cause you problems," said

"They have a fast game and can open you up with only
three or four touches. They are at a very high level and one
of the best teams in the world."

Bureau Report