Villarreal tops; Atletico, Real Madrid second in Spanish League

September 25th, 2008 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Sep 25 (DPA) Villarreal cruised to the top of the Spanish Liga with a comfortable 2-0 win over Racing Santander Wednesday.The Yellow Submarine sunk Santander within the space of five minutes in the first half, thanks to the energetic surges of veteran Angel Lopez down the right.

In the 28th minute, Angel centred for Euro 2008 hero Joan Capdevila to break the deadlock with a powerful header. Five minutes later, Joseba Etxeberria made it 2-0 by heading in another inviting Angel centre.

Villarreal took it easy in the second half, with their challenging upcoming schedule.

“We have learned how to pace ourselves,” said Angel. “We deliberately eased up towards the end, because we have many difficult games coming up.”

Villarreal now have 10 points from four games, just one point more than Madrid giants Real and Atletico.

Real caned pathetic bottom team Sporting Gijon 7-1 — with a hattrick from new boy Rafael van der Vaart — while Atletico were scoring a late 2-1 win at local rivals Getafe.

Van der Vaart, who is rapidly becoming the new idol of the Estadio Bernabeu, is now league top scorer with four goals.

Veteran Raul Gonzalez scored two for Real, while Gonzalo Higuain and Arjen Robben had one each.

Kike Mateo pulled a useless consolation goal back for Gijon, who have conceded 19 goals in four games and seem destined to make a rapid return to the second division.

Down the road in Getafe, meanwhile, Atletico were battling out an important 2-1 win.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle, in the best form of his career, put Atletico ahead in the 29th minute on a long ball from Tomas Ujfalusi.

In the 77th minute, Argentine midfielder Juan Albin levelled for Getafe by heading in a corner.

Atletico showed their ambition by refusing to settle for a draw, as they might have in previous seasons. They received their reward in the 83rd minute, when Getafe defender David Cortes turned into his own goal a pass from Maxi Rodriguez for Sinama-Pongolle.

Sevilla, meanwhile, were moving up to fourth on eight points with a 2-0 defeat of Espanyol. Enzo Maresca headed in the first goal, and Ernesto Chevanton pushed home the second.

Earlier Wednesday Barcelona had moved up to fifth — level on seven points with Espanyol, Valencia and Almeria — by beating lowly Betis 3-2, on a late goal from supersub Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Barca seemed to be cruising to an easy win, after Samuel Eto’o had given them a 2-0 half-time lead.

Eto’o had opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a ferocious near-post drive. Six minutes later, Lionel Messi sliced open the Betis defence and centred for Eto’o to score his second from close range.

Barca relaxed after half-time and allowed lively Betis back into the game.

In the 58th minute, new arrival Luciano Monzon gave the visitors hope by scoring with a low left-foot drive after a short free-kick. Eight minutes later, veteran Jose Mari Romero silenced the Camp Nou by making it 2-2 on a pass from Sergio Garcia.

Barca were thus obliged to retake control and did so quickly. Teenager Bojan Krkic twice came close. Daniel Alves centred for Gudjohnsen to score the winner with a stretching half-volley 11 minutes from time.

“We should have closed the game down,” said Alves. “We should never have allowed them back into it.”

Wednesday’s other early game was a dull 0-0 draw between Osasuna and Deportivo Coruna.

Thursday will see four games, with Valencia at Malaga and Almeria making the trip to Valladolid.

Mallorca will host Numancia, and Recreativo Huelva will face Athletic Bilbao.

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