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Santi Mina keeps Valencia on Champions League course

The victory took fourth-placed Valencia to 49 points, just two behind Real Madrid and eight ahead of Villarreal.

Published: 26th February 2018 09:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th February 2018 09:43 AM   |  A+A-

Valencia's Santi Mina (File | AP)

By AFP

MADRID: Santi Mina scored both goals as Valencia defeated Real Sociedad 2-1 on Sunday to stay firmly on course for the Champions League next season.

The victory took fourth-placed Valencia to 49 points, just two behind Real Madrid and eight ahead of Villarreal in the race for spots in the continent's top club competition.

Valencia went ahead in the 34th minute with a Santi Mina header before Mikel Oyarzabal levelled with a powerful drive after 54 minutes.

However, a mistake by Sociedad goalkeeper Tono Ramirez 13 minutes later allowed Mina to tuck away the second goal and ensure the three points against rivals who were eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday at the hands of Salzburg.

Athletic Bilbao came from a goal down to defeat rock-bottom Malaga 2-1 on a roller-coaster day for Moroccan international striker Youssef En-Nesyri.

The 20-year-old gave Malaga a 12th minute lead, finishing off a cross from the right hand side.

Markel Susaeta levelled five minutes later before a half-volley from Mikel San Jose secured the win for Athletic just before half-time.

En-Nesryi then missed a penalty on the hour when his spot-kick was saved by Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

His frustrations then got the better of him when he was red-carded six minutes from time after picking up a second booking.

Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo saved two penalties as his side beat Getafe 1-0 to consolidate their push for European football next season.

Turkey international Enes Unal scored the only goal at El Madrigal after just three minutes and Asenjo preserved the lead by saving a first-half spot-kick from Angel Rodriguez.

The 28-year-old then kept out a Jorge Molina penalty on 51 minutes to allow Villarreal to provisionally climb above Sevilla into fifth after halting a run of three league matches without a win.

Vincenzo Montella's Sevilla, held to a 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United midweek in the Champions League last 16, host second-placed Atletico Madrid later on Sunday.

On Saturday, Luis Suarez hit a hat-trick as leaders Barcelona thrashed neighbours Girona 6-1 to open up a 10-point lead over Atletico at the top, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Real in a 4-0 defeat of Alaves. 



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