Tight at the top in Spain
© AFP

Just two points separate the top four teams in the Spanish first division after Valencia defeated ten-man Getafe 3-0 on Sunday night to move third above champions Real Madrid on goal difference. Barcelona lead the way with a point advantage over Villarreal and a two-point cushion over Valencia, now third, and Real who had a brief spell at the summit on Saturday.

A Manuel Fernandes strike, a terrific volley from Joaquin and a late Vicente Rodriguez effort helped Valencia overcome Getafe, who had been handicapped by the sending off of Roberto Soldado close to half-time, as Unai Emery's team closed to within two points of pacesetters Barca.  It was the first meeting between the two sides since last season's Kings Cup final, which Valencia won 3-1, and there was no chance of revenge for Getafe.

Earlier on Sunday, Villarreal continued their impressive unbeaten start to the season, moving a point behind league leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 victory over Almeria.  Villarreal took an early strangehold on the match scoring twice in the opening quarter of an hour with Giuseppe Rossi scoring in the first minute before Jose Llorente registered his fifth of the season after 15 minutes.

Almeria pulled a goal back but Villarreal held on for their seventh win of the campaign.

Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini has worked wonders at El Madrigal with Villarreal now considered serious title contenders and the club are keen to tie him down to a longer contract.  "We faced a really good team that were better than us in the second half," admitted Pellegrini. "The good thing is that we kept up our concentration levels to clinch the victory."

Barcelona sit above Villarreal by a point after lighting up Camp Nou on Saturday, crushing Valladolid 6-0 with Samuel Eto'o scoring four goals in a dazzling display.  "We are not the perfect team and haven't won anything yet," warned Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Champions Real sit fourth, two points behind Barca, after Argentine Gonzalo Higuain scored four goals as Bernd Schuster's team laboured to a 4-3 win over Malaga on Saturday.

Sevilla surge
Sevilla are trying to break into that top four and closed to within five points of Barca with a 1-0 home victory against Recreativo Huelva on Sunday. Manolo Jimenez's team bounced back from four successive defeats, including a midweek UEFA Cup loss against Standard Liege, with Frederic Kanoute's 63rd minute strike proving decisive.

Mali international Kanoute also missed a penalty 12 minutes from time but it proved insignificant.  "There is a sense of relief in the dressig room," admitted Sevilla defender Fernando Navarro. "We couldn't afford to draw and this win is just what we needed."

The Sevilla win was bad news for Atletico Madrid who were frustrated by struggling Osasuna in a 0-0 draw that leaves them down in seventh, six points off the Champions League spots.

It could have been worse for Atletico had French goalkeeper Gregory Coupet not saved Javier Portillo's 19th minute spot-kick for Osasuna, who have still not won this season. 

Atletico coach Javier Aguirre was accused of lacking ambition in the post match press conference which irked the Mexican who replied: "That is your (the press) point of view. I have mine and we never agree. "This point is no good for us and we have to try and win two or three matches on the spin to get involved with the teams at the top."

Racing Santander's in-form marksman Mohamed Tchite, who scored a hat-trick against Valencia last weekend, was on target again as his side ended Sporting Gijon's run of five straight league wins with a 1-0 triumph.