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Football
Levante climb to fourth
Minnows return to the top four of Spain's Primera Division with a win over struggling Granada as Racing are relegated.
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2012 21:03
Second-half goals from Arouna Kone, Xavi Torres and Valdo helped Levante's European quest [EPA]

Levante again defied the label of modest minnows by reclaiming Spain's last European Champions League spot through a 3-1 win over Granada on Saturday, while Racing Santander were relegated after losing 3-0 at Real Sociedad.

Forward Valdo Lopes set up second-half goals by Arouna Kone and Xavi Torres before heading in late to guarantee Levante's 10th victory at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium.

Kone put Levante in front just seconds after half time with a header off a pass by Valdo for his 15th league goal of the season.

Odion Ighalo pushed in a rebound to level for Granada in the 67th against the run of play, but Valdo laid off for Torres to volley home in the 73rd before adding a third goal in the 84th.

"The team showed that it knew how to respond after we received the tough blow of giving up the equaliser,'' Torres said.

"These are three important points for us to keep dreaming, another small step toward Europe.''

Against the odds

After an unprecedented rise to the top of the league standings to start the season, Levante - with the league's smallest budget and an aging squad - were widely expected to fall out of contention for European competition by season end.

Results & fixtures

Saturday 28 April

Sociedad 3-0 Racing Espanyol 0-3 Sporting Gijon
Getafe 1-3 Mallorca
Levante 3-1 Granada
Villarreal v Osasuna

Sunday 29 April

Real Madrid v Sevilla
Zaragoza v Athletic Bilbao
Malaga v Valencia
Real Betis v Atletico Madrid
Rayo Vallecano v Barcelona

But with three rounds to play, Levante provisionally sit in fourth place, just three points out of third and four points clear of sixth place, which provides Spain's last Europa League berth.

Malaga can move back ahead of Levante with a win over third-place Valencia on Sunday.

In San Sebastian, Antoine Griezmann scored twice and assisted Imanol Agirretxe to give Sociedad victory over Racing.

Racing, one of the Spanish league's founding clubs, will celebrate their 100th anniversary in the second division next year after spending the past 10 seasons in the top flight.

"Of course we are crushed,'' Racing coach Alvaro Cervera said.

"But we have to try our best in the remaining three games out of respect to ourselves and this club which has so much history behind it.''

Also, relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon routed Espanyol 3-0, while Mallorca beat Getafe 3-1 as both teams stayed mid-table.

Forwards Adrian Colunga, Oscar Trejo and Mate Bilic all netted in the second half at Cornella-El Prat Stadium to earn Sporting's first win in 11 away games.

"Whoever needs it more gets the win at the end,'' said veteran Sporting manager Javier Clemente.

On Sunday, Madrid can clinch their record 32nd league title if they beat Sevilla and Barcelona lose at Rayo Vallecano. Zaragoza host Athletic Bilbao needing a win to keep alive their chances of avoiding the drop, and Atletico Madrid visit Real Betis.

Source:
AP
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