Valencia hit four to boost European hopes
Valencia consolidated third place in La Liga on Sunday with an emphatic 4-0 victory over relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon which brought to an end a run of five games without a win.
They are now eight points clear of Levante, who face Real Madrid later, and Espanyol who surprisingly lost 2-0 at home to Zaragoza.
Second-from-bottom Sporting started solidly under coach Inaki Tejada in his second game in charge, but after a cagey opening spell Valencia had the first chance with Aritz Aduriz firing wide.
Then Sofiane Feghouli gave them the opener after 33 minutes with a fine finish from a Jeremy Mathieu cross.
Sporting were unable to bounce back and Aduriz missed another excellent opening before the break while, after the restart, Valencia dominated the match as the visitors' rearguard was unable to cope.
A deflected Feghouli shot off Alberto Botia gave Valencia a two-goal cushion and then in injury time substitute Jonas Goncalves bagged a double to add gloss to the win.
Later Real Madrid can take a significant step towards winning the league title as victory over Levante would move them 10 points clear following Barcelona?s shock 3-2 defeat at Osasuna on Saturday.
While Barca struggle with just four victories on their travels, Real continue to roll over their opposition, having won 18 of 21 games, scoring 71 goals in the process, eight more than the champions.
Despite Barcelona's problems, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho feels that the title contest will not be decided imminently.
"February is possibly more difficult for us than Barcelona as we take on Levante, Racing (Santander) who are improving, Rayo (Vallecano), without doubt the surprise package this season, and then Espanyol," he said.
"Levante are a good side and not just for the fact they have beaten Barcelona but also for where they are in the table. In October and November everyone thought they would run out of steam."
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