Levante stay fourth as Bilbao and Espanyol draw

04 February 2012 07:46

Levante drew 1-1 at home to struggling Racing Santander on Saturday to remain in fourth place in La Liga, worth a potential Champions League place, as Athletic Bilbao drew with Espanyol 3-3 in the clash between their two closest rivals.

The results means Levante stay ahead of Espanyol on goal difference with both teams on 32 points, four points behind 3rd-placed Valencia, who play on Sunday, and two points ahead of sixth-placed Bilbao.

In a frantic match Espanyol snatched a point with a last-minute equaliser from Uruguayan Juan Albin, who smashed home a pass from substitute Kalu Uche.

Bilbao started out the stronger side and with the help of greater possession forced a string of early corners to test their visitors.

On 25 minutes Oscar De Marcos twisted and turned to find space for a shooting opportunity in the area and finally found space to stab the ball home.

However, Espanyol reacted well and started to make inroads into Bilbao's half and it was no surprise when Koffi Romaric evened the game up seven minutes later with a stinging left foot drive from the edge of the area.

Both sides had their chances to go ahead on the stroke of half-time.

First, Espanyol's Raul Moreno had a headed goal ruled out for a marginal offside decision, before Fernando Llorente headed wide a cross from De Marcos at the other end.

Within two minutes of the restart Vladimir Weiss, on load from Manchester City, put the visitors ahead with a dipping drive from 25 yards that deceived Gorka Iraizoz in the Bilbao goal.

Spanish international centre-forward Llorente then levelled the game on 57 minutes before Javi Martinez headed home an Ander Herrera cross to put the home side ahead for the second time, before Albin's late leveller rounded off an exciting game.

Arouna Kone headed home a cross from Pedro Botelho to put Levante ahead on 23 minutes after good build up play by the home team.

Racing goalkeeper Mario Fernandez then had to make two great saves on 33 minutes first to deny Kone stopping a right-footed shot before seconds later blocking a goalbound header from Botelho.

Santander found a way back on 60 minutes when Manuel Arana produced an unstoppable left footed shot from the edge of the area to grab a vital point for them.

Francisco Farinos almost snatched the win for the home team with two minutes remaining but saw his shot go just wide.

Also on Saturday Mallorca beat Real Betis 1-0 with a Chori Castro free-kick on 23 minutes, despite playing the last minutes with nine men when Ivan Ramis and Victor Casadesus were sent off in the final minutes.

Mario Alvarez had already been dismissed for Betis with 15 minutes remaining to complete a disappointing trip for the Seville-based side.

Later on Saturday Real Madrid go to Getafe to defend their seven-point lead at the top, before second-placed Barcelona entertain Real Sociedad in the Nou Camp.

Source: AFP