Granada and Sociedad boost aspirations

Real Sociedad cement Champions League place as Granada end nine-game winless streak to escape relegation zone.

    Granada and Sociedad boost aspirations
    Granada striker Nolito celebrates goal which gives team upper hand against relegation fighters [EPA]

    Granada won 1-0 at Espanyol in the Spanish League on Sunday to end a nine-game winless streak and escape the relegation zone.

    At the top of the table, Real Sociedad striker Imanol Agirretxe scored two goals and set up a third in a highly entertaining 4-2 comeback win over Valencia.

    Sociedad's victory strengthened their hold on fourth place and Spain's last Champions League berth by increasing their lead to five points over fifth-place Valencia with five rounds to go.

    After Valencia forward Roberto Soldado scored in the 25th minute, Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez levelled in the 38th from a cross by Gonzalo 'Chori' Castro. 

    Chori then put together an elegant passing combination with Agirretxe to give the hosts the lead on the break in the 73rd. Agirretxe scored in the 86th and added another in stoppage time after Jonas had scored for Valencia to trail 3-2 in the 90th.

    Elsewhere, Malaga beat visiting Getafe 2-1 and Sevilla drew 1-1 at Valladolid.

    Granada forward Manuel 'Nolito' Agudo curled a free kick over the wall that grazed the underside of the crossbar before settling into the net for what proved to be the 37th-minute winner.

    Espanyol improved after halftime but Granada's defence held firm to collect the much-needed three points.

    "Nolito scored a great goal. We bettered Espanyol in the score and surpassed them in our need to win"

    Granada coach Luis Alcaraz

    "We played a no-nonsense game, solid in defence and willing to help one another," said Granada coach Luis Alcaraz.

    "Nolito scored a great goal. We bettered Espanyol in the score and surpassed them in our need to win."

    Granada rose two points above Real Zaragoza and Celta Vigo, who are both facing the drop along with last-place Mallorca, a further two points behind. 

    It was Espanyol's first loss in 10 home games under replacement coach Javier Aguirre.

    Malaga are currently in the Europa League positions, but they are banned by UEFA for one season for not paying wages and taxes on time. Even so, Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said his team 'will keep fighting to finish as high up the standings as possible.'

    Roque Santa Cruz and Weligton scored for Malaga in the 40th and 47th before Juan Valera pulled one back for mid-table Getafe in the 70th. 

    In Valladolid, striker Javi Guerra gave the hosts the lead in the 41st when he finished off a counterattack by scooping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper after Patrick Ebert played him through Sevilla's defence.

    Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo drove a spot kick down the middle after Marc Valiente had blocked a cross in the area with his arm to equalise in the 62nd. It was Negredo's 19th goal of the season, the fourth highest total in Spain's topflight.

    Both Negredo and Guerra had chances to break the deadlock.

    Sevilla have only one win in 17 games away from home this season, and they crept into 10th place ahead of Espanyol and Valladolid.

    Barcelona lead the league by 11 points after drawing 2-2 at Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid's 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid. Also on Saturday, Real Zaragoza beat Mallorca 3-2, and Celta Vigo won 1-0 at Levante. On Friday, Osasuna drew 2-2 at Rayo Vallecano 2-2.

    Real Betis host Deportivo La Coruna on Monday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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