Valencia and Bilbao boost Champions League hopes

04 March 2012 07:46

Valencia beat Granada 1-0 away from home on Sunday thanks to a Sofiane Feghouli goal that strengthened their hold on third position in La Liga.

Algerian midfielder Feghouli finished of a successful week after scoring the winner on his international debut against Gambia on Wednesday.

Valencia remain six points clear of Athletic Bilbao who moved fourth after earlier beating local rivals Real Sociedad 2-0.

Markel Susaeta scored a goal in both halves for Athletic to move them level with Malaga on 37 points, two ahead of Levante before their home game on Monday with Betis.

The Basque Country derby was closer than the result suggests and Real Sociedad had their chances to level in an end-to-end second-half, before Susaeta stepped up to convert a free-kick 10 minutes from the end.

The result will give Athletic confidence ahead of their trip to Old Trafford on Thursday to face Manchester United in the first leg of the last 16 of the Europa League where they will be backed by more than 4000 travelling fans.

Earlier bottom club Zaragoza came from behind to beat Villarreal 2-1 at home with goals in the last five minutes from Luis Garcia and Abraham Minero.

Hernan Martinuccio had given the away side the lead on 15 minutes that they held for 70 minutes but Zaragoza fought to the end to take a crucial victory.

The defeat leaves Villarreal only three points clear of the relegation zone and nine points ahead of Zaragoza.

On Saturday, Seydou Keita and Xavi Hernandez came to the rescue to give 10-man Barcelona a 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon to cut the gap on leaders Real Madrid to seven points.

Real Madrid play Espanyol later on Sunday with the chance to extend the lead back to 10 points.

Source: AFP