Valencia demolished Real
Betis 4-0 in La Liga on Sunday to warm up for Thursday's task of
overturning a 4-2 Europa League semi-final deficit at home to
The victory, only a second success for Unai Emery's side in
seven league outings, put them four points clear in third place
of Malaga with four games left and tightened their grip on an
automatic place in next season's Champions League.
Valencia have 55 points, with Malaga on 51 in fourth, a
Champions League qualification berth, ahead of their game at
Osasuna on Monday.
Jonas exchanged passes with Roberto Soldado and poked the
ball past Betis goalkeeper Fabricio to open the scoring in the
sixth minute at the Mestalla.
Betis defender Jose Antonio Dorado was shown a straight red
card early in the second half when he brought down Sofiane
Feghouli before the French midfielder picked himself up to
volley the home side's second from a Sergio Canales centre five
Soldado added a third four minutes from time, substitute
Pablo Piatti twisted the knife with a fourth and Betis's misery
was complete when Jorge Molina was dismissed for protesting a
decision in the dying moments.
"It was an important win for us and now we focus on
Thursday," Canales, who has impressed since his recent return
from a knee injury, said in an interview with Spanish TV.
"We know that Atletico are going to be a very tough
proposition as they were in the first leg but if we play like we
did tonight then we have a chance," he added.
A quickfire Arda Turan double, including an acrobatic
bicycle-kick, fired Atletico to a 3-1 home win over Espanyol that
lifted them up to seventh.
The Turkey playmaker settled the match at a sun-bathed
Calderon when he volleyed in Juanfran's centre in the 59th
minute before dancing his way through a cluster of defenders and
netting off a post.
Diego Godin had nodded Atletico in front in the ninth minute
and Didac Vila levelled for the visitors with a shot that went
in off the underside of the bar 10 minutes later.
"Arda's presence in front of goal was a necessity that we
have been crying out for," Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who has
revived the club's fortunes since taking over at the turn of the
year, told a news conference.
"He is a player who tactically and technically is very
important for the team," added the former Argentina captain and
Atletico fan favourite."
Atletico's victory boosted their chances of playing in
Europe again next season and put them on 48 points with four
games left, level with sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao and a point
behind Levante, who drew 1-1 at Sevilla on Saturday.
Bilbao won 1-0 at bottom club Racing Santander, a result
which left the Cantabrian club on the brink of relegation.
Gaizka Toquero struck early for the Basques, who host
Portuguese side Sporting in their Europa League semi-final
second leg on Thursday having lost last week's first leg in
Leaders Real Madrid have one hand on a first league title in
four years after Cristiano Ronaldo netted a superb 73rd-minute
winner in a dramatic 2-1 win at champions Barcelona on Saturday
that stretched their advantage to seven points.
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho will part company at the end of the current season
Manchester City midfielder called up to the England squad for summer friendlies
Spurs miss out on Champions League again despite highest Premier League points tally
Champions closer to matching Real Madrid's La Liga record of 100 points with 2-1 win
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010