Sociedad, Valencia win to stay in fight for 4th
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Sociedad came back to win 2-1 at Sevilla and Valencia beat Getafe 1-0 on Saturday as both teams remained locked on points in their fight for a fourth-place finish in the Spanish league.
Sociedad remained ahead of fifth-place Valencia on head-to-head goal difference and in control of Spain’s last Champions League spot with two rounds to go.
The Basque side fell behind 10 minutes in at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium when Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic slotted in a back pass from Geoffrey Kondogbia.
But Rakitic’s own goal when he headed a free kick into his team’s net in the 16th leveled the score, and striker Imanol Agirretxe swept in Carlos Martinez’s lobbed pass to give Sociedad the lead for good in the 24th with his 13th goal of the season.
Both sides created several chances in the second half, but neither could finish them off.
Sevilla’s Jose Antonio Reyes was dismissed after halftime with a direct red card for protesting a decision by the line judge while warming up on the sideline.
“We’re happy because it’s very hard to win here,” said Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier. “In their previous nine home games only Atletico (Madrid) had won here. It was a tough game. We played well in the first half, and then in the second we tried to sit farther back and score on the break. But we had difficulties with their set pieces and had to hold on until the end.”
Valencia outplayed Getafe throughout but only edged past the hosts thanks to Jeremy Mathieu’s first-half goal.
Mathieu scored with a deft volley off a pass from Ever Banega in the 44th, firing the ball into the net from outside the area.
Getafe never threatened to draw at its Alfonso Perez Coliseum, with goalkeeper Miguel Moya saving the hosts from a heavier defeat.
Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde, who after taking over has led the team up the table to challenge for a berth in Europe’s top-tier competition, played coy when asked if he was any closer to extending his contract past this season.
“I don’t know if I’m going to have a meeting next week (with the club),” Valverde said. “The most important thing now is the game against Granada. If I speak or not with the club could be interesting to the general public, (but) if I consider that transmitting knowledge of it would hurt the team I won’t say anything.”
Elsewhere, Granada went a long way toward ensuring its third straight season in the first division by rolling over 10-man Osasuna 3-0 after Brazilian defender Siqueira set up one goal and scored another.
Siqueira passed for unmarked striker Youssef El Arabi to poke the ball under goalkeeper Andres Fernandez for Granada’s first goal in the 23rd.
He then converted a penalty kick in the “Panenka” chipped style in the 80th after Fernando “Nano” Macedo was sent off when he fouled Yacine Brahimi from behind with only the goalie to beat. Diego Buonanotte added the hosts’ third goal in stoppage time.
Granada stayed undefeated in five consecutive games and rose seven points clear of the relegation zone, while Osasuna was left four points above the drop before three of the four teams below it in the standings play this round.
On Sunday, new league champion Barcelona plays Valladolid without injured top scorer Lionel Messi. Barcelona can match Real Madrid’s record haul of 100 points from last season if it wins its remaining three matches.
Also on Sunday, it’s: Levante vs. Rayo Vallecano, Real Zaragoza vs. Athletic Bilbao, and Deportivo La Coruna vs. Espanyol.
Last-place Mallorca hosts Real Betis on Monday.
Madrid, Atletico, Malaga, and Celta Vigo already played their fixtures for this round last week to make room in the calendar for the Copa del Rey final on Friday, when Atletico beat Madrid 2-1 in extra time for its 10th cup.
Atletico celebrated its first win over its crosstown rivals in 26 matches dating back to 1999 with a parade through the Spanish capital on Saturday.
In the second division, Elche earned promotion on Saturday after Alcorcon drew 1-1 at Barcelona B.