Malaga climb, Villarreal grab points
Malaga strengthened their bid for a UEFA Champions League spot after staging a late comeback to defeat Espanyol 2-1 at Cornella-El Prat stadium in La Liga.
Espanyol led through Phillippe Coutinho's 24th-minute goal, but Malaga hit back with two goals in three second-half minutes from substitute Ruud van Nistelrooy (76) and Martin Demichelis (78) to snatch the victory.
The win lifts big-spending Malaga level on 47 points with third-placed Valencia, who lost at Getafe last night, and three clear of fifth-placed Levante, who slipped to a 2-0 home defeat to Osasuna today.
Raul Garcia gave Osasuna a 16th-minute lead and Nino secured the win 11 minutes from time as Osasuna, in fifth, moved to within a point of their opponents.
At the foot of the table, the bottom four sides all picked up points today, but it was perhaps Villarreal's 2-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano that could prove the most decisive. Strikes from Marco Ruben and Angel Lopez earned the Yellow Submarine their first win in seven games and put a six-point gap between them and the relegation zone.
Villarreal's victory, which also saw Ruben miss a 55th-minute penalty, will come as a big blow to bottom three Real Zaragoza, Sporting Gijon and Racing Santander, who all picked up creditable points.
Tight race at the bottom
Real Zaragoza continued their recent run of good form to temporarily move off the foot of the table as a last-minute Apono penalty earned them a 1-0 home win over Atletico Madrid in the day's early game.
That gave Zaragoza a tally of ten points from their last five matches, but they would be back propping up the standings by the end of the day with rivals Racing and Sporting both earning comeback draws to leave all three teams on 25 points.
Sporting were indebted to a 90th-minute leveller from Alberto Lora to salvage a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, who took a 77th-minute lead through Oscar De Marcos having previously missed a first-half penalty through Iker Muniain.
Racing did not leave it as late to earn a 1-1 draw from their trip to Real Betis, but were still 11 minutes from defeat when substitute Christian Stuani cancelled out Roque Santa Cruz's 18th-minute opener.