Villa drought ends, Euro race heats up

Barcelona striker David Villa ended his goal drought in the 2-0 victory over Osasuna and admitted it was a timely strike as his team aim for a La Liga and UEFA Champions League double.

While the attention was on Lionel Messi, who continued his amazing season by becoming the first player to hit 50 goals in a Spanish season, Villa was also celebrating his opener in yesterday's game.

The player from Gijon went eleven games without hitting the target, almost two months, for one of the longest droughts in his career. He slotted home comfortably from a Jeffren Isaias cross as Barcelona maintained their eight-point lead at the top of the table after Real Madrid had defeated Valencia 6-3.

Both they and Real rested players ahead of their mouth-watering match in the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday. Real will have the psychological advantage after beating the Catalan side in the Copa del Rey final and the manner of their 6-3 victory over Valencia will further boost their confidence.

Gonzalo Higuain will be looking to force his way into the Real side after he bagged a hat-trick while Kaka also scored twice.

"It is now going to be very different match in the Champions League and we need to go out believing in ourselves," said Villa. "We are just one step from the final and we have the desire and hope to get there."

It is now going to be very different match in the Champions League and we need to go out believing in ourselves.
David Villa, Barcelona forward

Europa race heats up
The battle for the UEFA Europa League places remains tight as Sevilla and Atletico Madrid followed up Athletic Bilbao's win over Real Sociedad with victories today.

Sevilla remain in sixth place after they took advantage of a slow start from Villarreal, whose minds were on their upcoming Europa League semi-final with Porto, to win 3-2. They went ahead within 15 minutes through Ivan Rakitic and Alvaro Negredo, before Carlos Marchena pulled a goal back.

Koffi Romaric added a third for the home side, but substitute Giuseppe Rossi, who had been held in reserve, added a second and went tantalisingly close to an equaliser but his shot came back off the post.

Atletico are behind Sevilla on goal difference after beating an in-form Levante 3-1. Elias Mendes put Atletico ahead and while Levante drew level from the penalty spot through Felipe Caicedo, Sergio Aguero then hit a brace, the second again with a penalty kick and keeper Gustavo Munua put the ball through his own goal.

Nacho Novo gave Sporting Gijon a 1-0 victory over Espanyol to practically assure their top-flight future by taking them over the 40-point mark.