Valencia sense Champions League after Almeria win

Spanish forward Roberto Soldado made it seven goals in his last three league games as Valencia won 3-0 at bottom side Almeria on Saturday to tighten their grip on third place.

Updated: April 17, 2011 12:00 IST
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Valencia: Spanish forward Roberto Soldado made it seven goals in his last three league games as Valencia won 3-0 at bottom side Almeria on Saturday to tighten their grip on third place.

Soldado headed in a Jeremy Mathieu cross five minutes after the break to notch his 13th league goal of the campaign before Lithuanian Marius Stankevicius and Jordi Alba sealed Valencia's 10th away win of the season.

Valencia move nine points ahead of fourth-placed Villarreal and take a giant step towards third and the final automatic Champions League berth.

Valencia had thumped rivals Villarreal 5-0 in their last league match, but initially found things much tougher against a determined Almeria side with new coach Roberto Olabe, their third manager this season, at the helm.

But in the 50th minute French left back Mathieu whipped in a fine cross and Soldado glanced in to continue his rich vein of form.

The giant Stankevicius added a second a metre from goal in the 66th minute and Alba volleyed in on 80 minutes to clinch the points.

Almeria stay bottom of the Spanish first division, seven points from safety, and have six games to save themselves.

Earlier, Venezuelan striker Miku Flores scored a vital late winner as Getafe took a step towards safety with a 1-0 home win over European hopefuls Sevilla on Saturday.

Getafe ended a run of nine league games without a win with Flores' 75th minute goal sealing their first victory since early February as the Madrid-based side moved four points clear of the bottom three.

It was a real blow for Sevilla who stay fifth but both Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid are just a point behind with a game in hand.

Sevilla could not complain about the loss with their goalkeeper Javi Varas keeping them in the game with a string of fine saves before Flores finally ended the resistance.

Elsewhere, Malaga moved out of the bottom three with a convincing 3-0 home win over Real Mallorca.

Brazilian star Julio Baptista, formerly of Real Madrid, scored a brace (40 min, 56) to add to Seba Fernandez's opener as Malaga ran out easy winners.

It was a vital win for Malaga and their coach Manuel Pellegrini, who was in charge of Real Madrid at this stage last season as they fought for the league title with Barcelona, but now finds himself embroiled in a battle to keep Malaga in the league.

Malaga move out of the bottom three at the expense of Real Zaragoza, who are level on 33 points but below Malaga due to their inferior head to head record.

Later on Saturday arch rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona were facing off at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the first of four 'Clasicos' in just 18 days.

Barcelona hold an eight-point cushion over Real in the league, leaving Madrid with it all to do to prevent them winning a third successive league title.

Real were thumped 5-0 in the first Clasico at Camp Nou in November and Madrid boss Jose Mourinho will be out for revenge to try and haul his team back in the title race.

"This Madrid is better than the one we played before and they start as favourites," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

"If we lose at the Bernabeu, there is a long way to go in the league but to win the league we have to win at the Bernabeu."

Barcelona and Real will lock horns again on Wednesday in the Kings Cup final at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia before tussling twice in the Champions League semi-final legs on April 27 and May 3.

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