Villarreal stay in Euro race

Ruben header downs Athletic Bilbao while Osasuna thrash Hercules in Spanish Primera Division.

    Llorente saw a late chance to force a draw denied by goalkeeper Diego Lopez as Bilbao stay sixth [AFP]

    A superb header from Marco Ruben earned Villarreal a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao and kept his side firmly in the race for European football next season.

    After a dull first half, Ruben made the breakthrough for the Yellow Submarine in the 58th minute when he rose to head home Borja Valero's cross at the far post.

    With Brazil striker Nilmar missing through injury, Villarreal had struggled to find a way through the Bilbao defence in the first half at San Mames stadium.

    Bilbao didn't shine either, with winger Iker Muniain's pace on the left flank providing something of a threat, though the occasional cross to Fernando Llorente failed to reach its target.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday March 19

     Atl Madrid 1-2 Real Madrid
     Barcelona 2-1 Getafe
     Mallorca 1-0 Zaragoza

    Sunday March 20

     
    Deportivo 0-1 Levante
     Hercules 0-4 Osasuna
     Malaga 2-0 Espanyol
     Santander 2-1 Sociedad
     Gijon 1-0 Almeria
     Athl Bilbao 0-1 Villarreal
     Valencia v Sevilla

    Ruben's goal forced Bilbao to look for an equaliser and two minutes later Llorente controlled a pass with his chest before firing just past the post.

    The game opened up and Giuseppe Rossi finally got free to test Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz with a shot in the 62nd minute.

    Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez saw his header float wide in the 65th, and Muniain fired into the arms of Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez moments later.

    Iraizoz deflected Santi Cazorla's volley over the crossbar in the visitors' best chance to double their lead.

    Lopez blocked a low strike by Bilbao's Mikel Susaeta in the and stretched to make a great one-handed save to deny Llorente's header four minutes from time to protect the victory.

    With the loss, Bilbao remained a point behind Espanyol in sixth place.

    Earlier, Osasuna scored twice in each half to thrash Hercules 4-0 for their third straight win.

    Osasuna moved six points clear of the relegation zone and have now won four and drawn one of six games since Jose Luis Mendilibar replaced Jose Antonio Camacho as coach.

    Hercules go bottom after a fourth straight loss.

    At La Rosaleda, Jose Rondon scored twice as Malaga defeated Espanyol 2-0 after a dominant first half.

    Malaga are one point from safety after a second straight win.

    Levante stayed undefeated in five matches after beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 from Ruben Suarez's 90th-minute free kick.

    Miguel de las Cuevas scored to give Sporting Gijon a 1-0 win over Almeria, and Racing Santander beat Real Sociedad 2-1.

    Valencia were playing Sevilla in Sunday's late game.

    SOURCE: AP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.