Controversial Cani goal earns Villarreal victory

MADRID - A controversial goal from Cani gave Villarreal a 2-1 comeback win at home to Recreativo Huelva that took them up to fifth in the Primera Liga on Thursday. The midfielder's lob was ruled to have crossed the line when it was cleared from under the bar by defender Nasief Morris in the 67th minute. Television replays were inconclusive. Another superb lob by Villarreal's Joseba Llorente towards the end of the opening half had cancelled out Javier Camunas's first minute opener for the visitors. Villarreal moved on to 52 points, three behind fourth-placed Valencia, leaving Recreativo deep in relegation trouble in 19th. "We have the right to complain because a goal has been awarded against us that shouldn't stand," Recre coach Lucas Alcaraz said. "The referee wasn't in a position to see and he waited a long time to signal it. The linesman did not move. They had a conversation over the headset and decided to award it." RACING AHEAD Malaga, who won at Osasuna on Wednesday, are sixth with 50 points while Atletico Madrid slipped to seventh after Thursday's 5-1 defeat at Racing Santander left them on 49. Atletico's chances of a Champions League return next season receded as mid-table Racing ran amok with Christian Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay and Mohamed Tchite scoring before the break. Diego Forlan pulled one back from the penalty spot for Atletico just past the hour mark but further goals by Pedro Munitis and Nikola Zigic completed the rout. Barcelona top the standings with 81 points, six ahead of Real Madrid after both teams won earlier this week. Recreativo's defeat left them on 30 points and they slipped one place as Espanyol continued their climb to safety with a comfortable victory in a relegation battle at Sporting Gijon. Nene's volley put Espanyol 1-0 ahead in the 25th and Sporting were condemned to defeat midway through the second half when Roman Martinez and Jose Callejon scored in three minutes. A harsh red card for Sporting's David Barral soon after hindered the home side's chances of a fightback. Espanyol are 18th with 32 points, just a point and one place behind stuttering Sporting.