Champions League hopefuls Villarreal slip up at home

March 3rd, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, March 3 (DPA) Champions League hopefuls Villarreal again slipped up at home after being held to a barren draw by lowly Osasuna in football’s Primera Liga. Villarreal have failed to win any of their last three home games, and after the draw Sunday remained in third place largely thanks to their excellent away form.

Osasuna keeper Ricardo Lopez had to be on his toes to deny Guille Franco and Robert Pires later on, but it was a surprisingly peaceful evening for the visiting defence.

Villarreal are keen to return to the Champions League, in which they reached the semi-finals two years ago.

They are third with 47 points from 26 games. They are seven points behind second-placed Barcelona - who crashed 4-2 away to Atletico Madrid on Saturday - and 12 behind leaders Real Madrid, who scored a controversial late 3-2 win in Huelva on Saturday.

Osasuna are now seventh from bottom, level on 30 points with Deportivo Coruna - who beat Sevilla 2-1 on Saturday - and with Athletic Bilbao, who battled out a 1-1 draw in Almeria in Sunday’s late game.

The promising Alvaro Negredo gave Almeria the lead from the penalty spot - his ninth goal of the season. Fernando Llorente levelled for Bilbao.

Most of Sunday’s games in Spain had a relegation significance.

A 2-1 defeat away to bottom team Levante on Sunday has sucked Zaragoza into the relegation quicksand.

Zaragoza spent heavily on South American talent last summer, but are undergoing a horrible season nonetheless, with two coaches having already packed their bags.

The loss to Levante leaves Zaragoza joint third from bottom with Huelva, both on 29 points.

Alexandre Geijo gave Levante the lead in the 21st minute, Mustapha Riga made it 2-0 on the hour. Oscar Gonzalez pulled a goal back for Zaragoza in the 66th minute - but it was a clear case of too little too late.

“We are really in trouble now,” Zaragoza striker Diego Milito told radio station Cadena SER. “We will have to start winning games straight away.”

Zaragoza were relegated, against all the odds, in 2002, just a year after winning the King’s Cup.

Levante remain bottom despite the win, with just 19 points. Then come Murcia - thrashed 4-0 by Betis - on 23, then Huelva and Zaragoza on 29.

The thrashing by Betis will almost certainly mean the sack for Murcia coach Lucas Alcaraz.

Argentine striker Mariano Pavone scored two for Betis. The other goals were put away by Brazilians Edu and Rafael Sobis.

Betis are now sitting pretty in 11th place with 32 points, level with Getafe, who drew 3-3 at home to Mallorca in Sunday’s most eventful early game.

Racing Santander, meanwhile, were moving up to sixth with a 1-0 win in Valladolid, courtesy of a late goal from veteran Aldo Duscher.

The tight win leaves Santander two points above Sevilla.

In fifth place, on 42 points, are Espanyol, who beat troubled Valencia 2-0 on Saturday, two points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

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