La Liga Sunday round-up
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Villarreal blew the Liga title race wide open once again as they shocked Barcelona 2-0.
Villarreal blew the Liga title race wide open once again as they shocked Barcelona 2-0 at El Madrigal.
A goalless first half was mainly due to poor finishing, with the champions guilty of some bad misses.
But The Yellow Submarines were bolstered in the second period and they grabbed the lead with a superbly worked goal as Robert Pires bagged a goal on his full debut.
Josico and Ruben Cano exchanged passes delightfully to send Pires clear and he made no mistake as he finished with great aplomb past Victor Valdes.
The winner came five minutes from time when Jose Mari out-muscled Andres Iniesta, before finding Cano - who helped the ball onto Garcia Marcos and he lashed the ball into the corner.
Barca's defeat means they are now just two points ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid and just one point ahead of second placed Sevilla - after they sealed a comfortable 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Sevilla took a while to get over the disappointment of an early penalty miss from Luis Fabiano (9), and did not take the lead until early in the second half when Alexander Kerzakhov (50) found the back of the net.
Antonio Puerta added another just minutes later and Ernesto Chevanton added a third on 69 minutes.
Francisco Yeste (77) did pull one back for Bilbao, but Luis Fabiano added another to seal the 4-1 success with just seven minutes left.
Real Zaragoza moved into the top-four with a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo at La Romareda.
Zaragoza claimed success thanks to two late strikes from Brazilian Ewerthon (72 & 76).
Recreativo de Huelva bolstered their Uefa Cup hopes with a 4-2 win over Racing Santander - which leap-frogs them over their opponents into seventh.
Ikechukwu Uche put Recreativo ahead after just two minutes, but Gonzalo Colsa soon levelled (8) matters.
The home side then took control of proceedings with Pablo Amo (32) and Santiago Cazorla (39) both scoring before the break.
Laurentiu Rosu (66) put the game beyond Racing with a fourth. Nikola Zigic added a consolation for Racing, who were also reduced to ten-men when Gonzalez Ruben was dismissed.
Real Mallorca climbed into twelfth with a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Gimnastic de Tarragona.
Espanyol and Real Betis played out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw - although there was huge controversy at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.
Real Betis looked on their way to victory as Edu grabbed a double (45 & 77) after Albert Riera had put Espanyol ahead early on (9).
Espanyol were also down to ten-men after Walter Pandiani saw red just after the break - but the game erupted in injury time as the home side claimed a point.
Raul Tamudo was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Pedro Contreras. He saw red, but he was not the only one as Miguel Angel and Edu also followed - as the Seville-based side were reduced to eight-men. Tamudo scored the resulting spot-kick to earn his side a draw.
Levante missed the chance to move out of the bottom three as they drew 1-1 with Getafe - but now only goal-difference keeps them in the drop-zone.
Riga Mustapha had given Levante the lead after just five minutes, but Getafe denied them victory as David Belengeur struck just before the hour.
Click below for match summaries:
Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 Osasuna
Espanyol 2-2 Real Betis
Levante 1-1 Getafe
Real Mallorca 1-0 Gimnastic
Real Zaragoza 2-0 Celta Vigo
Recreativo de Huelva 4-2 Racing Santander
Sevilla 4-1 Athletic Bilbao
Villarreal v Barcelona