Deportivo escapes drop zone with win at Levante
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Deportivo La Coruna rolled to a 4-0 victory at Levante to provisionally escape the Spanish league’s relegation zone for the first time in 18 weeks after its fourth consecutive win on Saturday.
Also, Malaga forward Julio Baptista struck in injury time to grab a 1-0 win over visiting Osasuna four days after the Costa del Sol side was eliminated from the Champions League quarterfinals.
Sergio Garcia’s last-gasp equalizer secured Espanyol a 3-3 home draw with Valencia in an entertaining match that featured both teams scoring twice in the last 12 minutes, while Valladolid fought back to beat 10-man Getafe 2-1.
Deportivo’s biggest win of the season lifted the Galician side two points clear of the drop, with Real Zaragoza taking its place before it hosts league leader Barcelona on Sunday.
Veteran playmaker Juan Carlos Valeron scored his first goal of the season to give Deportivo its 12th-minute opener, sweeping in a cross from Manuel Pablo.
“He makes our team go,” Deportivo coach Fernando Vazquez said about the 37-year-old Valeron. “Today he showed again that he’s an incredible player with amazing talent, who also works harder than anyone.”
Luis “Pizzi” Afonso, Nelson Oliveira, and Bruno Gama also scored for Deportivo as Levante never threatened to react, leaving it with one win in its last 10 games.
“This was the worst game for Levante since I have been here,” said coach Juan Ignacio Martinez, who led Levante to its best ever season last year in his first at the club. “I hope it was only an accident.”
Malaga outplayed Osasuna early on but its lack of finishing touch appeared destined to condemn it to a tie until Baptista volleyed in a free kick headed down by Ignacio Camacho three minutes into stoppage play.
Malaga moved one point behind fourth-place Real Sociedad before Sunday’s game at Rayo Vallecano.
“It was tough to brush off the loss from earlier this week and respond well after the wear and tear, but my team was able to do so,” said Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini.
With the draw in Barcelona, Valencia pulled level on points with Malaga, while Espanyol stayed undefeated at Cornella-El Prat Stadium in nine matches under replacement coach Javier Aguirre.
Wakaso Mubarak headed in Garcia’s well placed cross for Espanyol’s deserved opener in first-half injury time. And Mubarak set up Joan Verdu in the 83rd with a header backpass to restore the hosts’ advantage after Sergio Canales leveled for Valencia in the 53rd.
Valencia, however, quickly swung the game in its favor when Roberto Soldado assisted Jonas in the 87th before scoring a minute into stoppage time.
But Espanyol wasn’t done either, and Garcia fended off his marker to win a long goalkick headed on into the box and flicked the ball into the far side of the net, snatching a point in dramatic fashion.
“We could have gone into halftime with a bigger lead, but the result is fair and the true winner was the public,” said Aguirre. “All of us were behind Sergio pushing in that final goal.”
Forward Oscar Gonzalez scored one goal and set up another to lead Valladolid from behind to beat Getafe, breaking a five-game winless streak.
“We pulled out that fighting spirit that we kept hidden inside through many games without a win, now that we are approaching the end of the season,” said Valladolid coach Miroslav Djukic. “We knew how to play against a Getafe side that is always tough because it pressures a lot.”
It was Getafe’s first loss in eight rounds. Both teams remained in mid-table with seven rounds left.
Real Betis drew 3-3 with Sevilla in a Seville derby on Friday.
On Sunday, Real Madrid visits Athletic Bilbao 13 points behind Barcelona, while Granada plays at Atletico Madrid clinging to safety one point behind Deportivo. Mallorca hosts Celta Vigo on Monday.