[QODLink]
FOOTBALL
Villarreal third as Real watch Ruud
Top two not in action as Villarreal win 4-2 while Ruud van Nistelrooy and Real Madrid weigh up a reunion.
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2011 22:42 GMT
Cani celebrates his opportunistic strike from halfway as his side kept the leaders within range [AFP]

A spectacular lob from the half-way line by Ruben Cani helped Villarreal to a 4-2 victory over Osasuna to keep them in third place in the Spanish Primera Division.

Villarreal went into the game with several important players missing but Marco Ruben took advantage of a rare start with the opening goal.

Osasuna drew level from a corner with Krisztian Vadocz heading home but they were soon behind again when Cani spotted keeper Ricardo Lopez off his line and lofted the ball from the half-way line over his head.

In an exciting end-to-end game Joan Capdevila and Gonzalo Rodriguez scored further goals for Villarreal with substitute Javier Calleja finding the back of the net in between for the visitors.

Early goals from Javi Martinez and Iker Muniain set Athletic Bilbao up for a 2-1 victory over Racing Santander.

Results & fixtures

Saturday January 15

 Athl Bilbao 2-1 Santander
 Getafe 0-4 Sociedad
 Zaragoza 1-0 Levante
 Gijon 2-0 Hercules
 Villarreal 4-2 Osasuna
 Sevilla v Espanyol

Sunday January 16

 
Valencia v Deportivo
 Almeria v Real Madrid
 Barcelona v Malaga

Monday January 17


 
Atl Madrid v Real Mallorca

More clinical finishing from the home side proved the difference as Racing had plenty of possession but struggled in front of goal.

Pedro Munitis rounded keeper Gorka Iraizoz but shot over the cross bar while Kennedy hit the woodwork from 35 yards with a fine shot before Ivan Bolado earnt Racing a consolation.

Real Sociedad bounced back from four straight defeats with a convincing 4-0 win away to in-form Getafe.

Relegation scrap

Zaragoza came out on top 1-0 in the relegation scrap against Levante with Gabi Fernandez scoring the key goal while David Barral and Nacho Cases gave Sporting Gijon a 2-0 win over Hercules.

On Sunday, it is the turn of Malaga to face the champions Barcelona who are in imperious form and looking for a club record 28th straight game without defeat.

They equalled the previous record tally set in the 1974-75 season with a 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Real Betis where Lionel Messi once again stole the show with three goals but it could easily have been five.

Real Madrid remain on the shoulders of Barcelona but lack the fluidity and firepower of their rivals.

They are scouring the market for a goal scorer with Gonzalo Higuain a long term injury absentee, and may turn to a familiar face.

Coach Jose Mourinho said the club would welcome former striker Ruud van Nistelrooy back from Hamburg.

"There are lots of names being mentioned," Mourinho told a news conference at the club's Valdebebas training ground when asked about former Manchester United marksman Van Nistelrooy, 34.

"If in the end it's Ruud I'll be very happy," added the ex-Chelsea coach. "We coincided in England and I know him well as a player and person.

"It would be very good for us to have another attacker because we don't have many and we have a lot of matches to play."

Van Nistelrooy said after scoring the winner in Hamburg's 1-0 victory at Schalke 04 on Saturday he would have to mull over his next move.

"It's not easy for me as it's not just any club that is coming calling," he was quoted as telling German media.

"Hopefully things will be sorted out soon. I can't leave the lads in the lurch by having my head elsewhere. Real Madrid is the only club that could change my mind."

Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.
Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.
Taliban makes quick gains in Afghanistan with little opposition from Afghan army as US withdrawal begins.
Experts from Minamata, Japan check for signs of mercury illnesses in Ontario, Canada.
join our mailing list