MADRID - Superb strikes from Roman Martinez and Nico Pareja helped Espanyol beat in-form Valencia 3-0 to continue their steady climb away from the Primera Liga's relegation places on Sunday. Substitute Martinez lashed a shot high into the net after 66 minutes and Argentine compatriot Pareja curled a free kick into the top corner before Nene put away a stoppage-time penalty. Mauricio Pochettino's side were rooted to the foot of the standings at the beginning of April but five battling wins in six matches have pulled them up to 14th with 38 points, four clear of the drop zone with four left to play. Valencia remained fourth with 56 points, four behind Sevilla who beat Villarreal 2-0 on Saturday. Barcelona top the standings with 85 points after hammering Real Madrid 6-2 at the Bernabeu. Atletico Madrid kept up their chase for a return to the Champions League next season with a 2-0 victory at Real Betis in Sunday's late game. Diego Forlan scored both goals to take his tally for the campaign to 25, moving Atletico up to fifth and level on 55 points with Villarreal in sixth. Earlier, an eighth-minute goal from Lassad Nouioui gave Deportivo Coruna a 1-0 home win over Real Valladolid, which kept them in the hunt for a place in Europe. Depor are seventh with 53 points. There was high drama at the foot of the table when Athletic Bilbao netted a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at Sporting Gijon and prevent them from climbing out of the relegation places. Sporting, 18th, are level on points with Getafe in 17th, after Michel's debut on the bench for the Madrid-based side failed to inspire a turnaround in their fortunes. They lost 2-1 at Real Mallorca. Recreativo Huelva, 19th, closed to within a point of Sporting after a stoppage-time volley from Nasief Morris earned them a stirring 2-1 comeback win at 10-man Osasuna. Numancia are bottom with 31 points.
3 May 2009
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