Cuenca playing against LEVANTE UD in the first half of the season / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Valencia drop further behind
Real Madrid beat Sporting 3-1 at the Bernabéu to keep their four point lead ahead of next week’s El Clásico, with Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema wiping out De Cuevas’ early penalty and perhaps as importantly, none of the Madrid players threatened with suspension picked up a card. Valencia are a massive 33 points behind Madrid in third and they were thrashed 4-0 at Espanyol on Sunday, with boss Unai Emery admitting afterwards: “we were inferior physically, tactically and emotionally”. Valencia are now just a point ahead of Málaga on 51, who were denied a win at La Rosaleda by 10 man Real Sociedad, who lost Mikel Gonzalez for a second yellow just before the break, but equalised at the start of the second and held on to deny their hosts the three points.
Sevilla progress halted
With Levante (48 points) also losing, the pack of teams chasing had the chance to stake a claim to a Europa Cup place and threaten fourth place, but they had mixed results. Osasuna sixth on 46 points had their midfield leader Raul Garcia sent off as they went down 1-0 at Betis, whilst Sevilla saw their good run come to a shuddering halt when they were beaten 5-1 at Getafe, despite an early Negredo opener. Sevilla stay on 45 points where they are joined by Espanyol and Getafe, as well as Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, who both got important wins ahead of this week’s Europa League semi finals.
Emotional display at San Mamés
It was an emotional game at San Mamés on Sunday as players and fans played homage to the Bilbao fan who died last week. After being hit by a rubber bullet fired by police after the Europa Cup quarter final Fernando Llorente produced a T-Shirt in honour of the dead fan to celebrate his goal, which proved to be the winner as the game against Mallorca ended 1-0. Atlético Madrid, meanwhile proved that they CAN win a Madrid derby, beating Rayo 0-1 at Vallecas with Falcao notching up his 22nd strike of the campaign.
“We have the heart of a lion!”
Zaragoza continue to defy the odds and as they trooped off at the Romareda after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Granada, their fans – who so recently seemed to have given up hope – cheered them off with chants of “Yes, we can!”. The win leaves them just 5 points behind Granada and safety and even if they can’t make it, boss Manolo Jimenez reckons: “what I am witnessing is faith. We are all in it together and we are working. We know that there are things wrong with us, we know we have limitations, we know that there are things we haven't got. But we also know what we have got and what we have got is the heart of a lion." Dujmovic scored early
on against Granada and although the visitors pressured for the remaining 90 odd minutes, Zaragoza hung on and took the points. With Racing getting a sensational late equaliser against Villarreal, who are level on 36 points with Granada, Zaragoza now have two teams to chase over the last five games.