Villarreal stay on Valencia's heels

Villarreal moved a point behind fourth-placed Valencia in the UEFA Champions League race with a 2-1 win at Getafe. Spanish international Joan Capdevila and Joseba Llorente scored first half goals to down Getafe and keep up their hopes of qualifying for Europe's premier competition for the second successive season.

Getafe pulled a goal back from the penalty spot late on, but ran out of time and continue to languish one point above the drop zone. Getafe were looking to bounce back from the painful derby defeat to Real Madrid but got off to a nightmare start on the quarter hour mark with a howler from goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Stojkovic fumbled a routine shot and Capdevila was on hand for a simple tap in.

Llorente made it 2-0 close to the break following a swift counter attack. Both sides were reduced to ten men with Villarreal defender Angel Lopez sent off in the 57th minute and four minutes later the numbers where evened up when Getafe lost Rafa Lopez for two bookable offences.

Getafe won a late spot-kick and with Francisco Casquero removed from penalty taking duties after his failed chipped effort against Real. Manu del Moral took over the responsibility and smashed it home.

Elsewhere, Espanyol made it 13 points from 15 with a 2-0 win over Real Betis to move out of the bottom three. Five games ago Espanyol looked doomed lying bottom eight points from safety but have found the winning formula at the right time. Goals from Luis Garcia and Roman Martinez helped Espanyol go two points above the relegation zone

In other matches, Recreativo Huelva lost 4-2 against Real Mallorca to stay second from bottom, four points from safety. Barca drew 2-2 with Valencia on 25 April and Real can put the pressure on in the title race ahead of next Saturday's 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It is Juande Ramos's first return to Sevilla where he won two UEFA Cups and the Kings Cup but the coach can expect a hostile reception after resigning in October 2007 to join Tottenham Hotspur. Third-placed Sevilla have lost their last three matches and need the win with Valencia and Villarreal closing in on them. Atletico Madrid are also targeting a top four finish and need a win over Sporting Gijon later today.