Home Sports Mallorca ahead of Sevilla in battle for fourth place

Mallorca ahead of Sevilla in battle for fourth place

by DPA,

Madrid : The weekend’s most important development in the Spanish league football was the re-emergence of modest Mallorca in the battle for fourth place.

Coached by wily old fox Gregorio Manzano, Mallorca beat Villarreal 1-0 to pass Sevilla, who surprisingly crashed 2-1 in Zaragoza.

There was no other change atop the table, because Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia all scored important home wins.

Barca beat Getafe 2-1 despite having defenders Gerard Pique and Rafa Marquez sent off.

Real thrashed Espanyol 3-0, and Valencia beat Valladolid 2-0.

These results leave unbeaten Barca top with 55 points from 21 games, five points above Real, who are eight points above Valencia.

Mallorca are now five points below Valencia. They needed a late goal from Portuguese defender Jose Carlos Nunes to break the deadlock against Villarreal.

“We knew at the beginning of the season,” said Nunes, “that we would have to be strong at home if we wanted to achieve anything important.”

A tight game of few chances seemed to be heading for a goalless draw. In the 82nd minute, though, Julio Alvarez swung over a perfect centre, and Nunes headed in the vital goal.

Mallorca have won all 11 of their home matches, the same as Real.

It was a poor start on the Villarreal bench for Juan Carlos Garrido, who took over on February 1 from Ernesto Valverde.

Later Sunday, Sevilla surprisingly went down 2-1 at lowly Zaragoza in an ugly match that saw three red cards.

Sevilla are one point above fifth-placed Deportivo Coruna, who were held 0-0 in Malaga.

Italian defender Matteo Contini took advantage of defensive confusion to shoot Zaragoza ahead after 31 minutes.

Three minutes later, Frederic Kanoute levelled for Sevilla after taking a centre from Diego Capel, but four minutes before half-time Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo clumsily turned a centre into his own goal to make it 2-1.

In an ill-tempered finale, Negredo was sent off for kicking Contini before Sevilla defender Marius Stankevicius and Zaragoza’s Adrian Colunga earned their own red cards.

Negredo and Stankevicius will be suspended for Wednesday’s cup semi-final second leg at Getafe, and Kanoute is doubtful after pulling a muscle in his right leg.

Sevilla coach Jimenez admitted that his team “didn’t look as if they wanted to win the match.” He called it “a game to forget, from start to finish, because apart from not playing well we have lost men for the cup match.”

Sevilla are now one point above sixth-placed Deportivo Coruna, who were held 0-0 in Malaga.

Athletic Bilbao, meanwhile, were moving up to seventh with a 3-2 comeback victory over luckless bottom team Xerez.

With 25 minutes left, Xerez were winning 2-1 in old San Mames, but the hosts turned the tables on them with two late goals from Spain striker Fernando Llorente.

Sunday’s late game was a 1-1 draw between Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid, who will meet again in the other cup semi-final on Thursday.

Diego Forlan gave Atletico an early lead, only for Gonzalo Colsa to quickly level for the hosts.

In Sunday’s other games, Almeria beat Sporting Gijon 3-1, and Osasuna overcame Tenerife 1-0.

Xerez are bottom with just 11 points. Then come Tenerife on 17, Valladolid on 18, Zaragoza on 20 and Malaga on 21.