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Match round-up - First Division, Day 35

Barcelona are just one point off a third league title in a row after a 2-0 victory over Espanyol on Sunday evening. Real Madrid's victory the night before had temporarily closed the gap to five points, but a win over their city neighbours means that a draw in Levante on Wednesday will be enough. Pedro and Iniesta both tested Kameni before Iniesta won back the ball on the edge of the area before beating the keeper with an angled shot midway through the first half. And two minutes after the restart Piqué ran in on the near post to head Xavi's corner in for a second. Only Osvaldo caused any problems for Valdés in the second half, but Villa could have added to the lead had been able to turn in Iniesta's cross near the end.

Earlier in the day fourth placed Villarreal picked up a point in a 0-0 draw at Mallorca to keep them seven points ahead of fifth spot, probably enough to ensure them at least the last Champions League spot. The match kicked off at noon, the pilot for a new experiment for next season, with a good crowd turning up despite the unusual hour. The locals were looking to take revenge on the side who replaced them in the Europa League this season, but they were lucky not to go behind when Rossi hit the post in the first half. After the break keepers Diego López and Lux were called upon to save from Webó and Nilmar, but in the end they settled for a point apiece which takes them both nearer to their respective objectives.

Mallorca themselves moved on to 43 points, but they still need a point or two to be totally sure of staying up, especially after Osasuna came from behind to beat relegation rivals Zaragoza 1-3. Lafita put the home side ahead early on after Lolo headed back a long ball in to his path, and Uche could have added to the scoreline either side of half time. But substitute Vadócz set up Camuñas for the equaliser, and goals from Sergio and Kike Sola gave the visitors three vital points. The result means that Deportivo now occupy the last relegation spot with 39 points, and with three games to go not even ninth placed Sporting are safe. (08.05.11)

Real Madrid put the pressure back on Barcelona after beating Sevilla 2-6 on Saturday night to close the gap on their rivals to five points. By half time they were already three up, Sergio Ramos starting things off in the twentieth minute heading home Özil's corner. Cristiano Ronaldo made it two after Pepe headed across Marcelo's centre, and then headed against the post before Kaká got the third from another Özil assist. A quarter of an hour after the restart Negredo got one back after Romaric set him up, but Ronaldo took over after that, scoring three more goals in the next twelve minutes to make it four for the night. Negredo headed another against his old team before the end, but by then it was more than all over.

Valencia made sure of their place in the Champions League next season with a 3-0 victory over a Real Sociedad side who are now only three points above the drop zone. Unai Emery's team tied things up in the first half, Soldado opening the scoring with just over a quarter of an hour gone after Albelda and Mata combined to set him up. Griezmann hit the post in a prolonged Real attack, but Jonas headed the second a few minutes later from Miguel's cross, and Soldado got his second of the evening before the break after Mathieu crossed in from the left. Banega and Mata went close for the locals after the restart and Griezmann could have scored for the visitors, but the result was never in doubt after the half time break.

Athletic Bilbao moved back up to fifth after a 3-2 victory over Levante, the Basque side racing in to a three goal lead but happy in the end for the final whistle as their opponents came back late on. Toquero put the locals ahead on the half hour mark after Orbaiz won the ball in midfield and played it through to Muniain, and David López scored the second from the penalty spot just two minutes in to the second half after Llorente was brought down by Nano. When Muniain and Toquero combined again to set up Llorente for a third it appeared to be all over, but Stuani pulled one back from Valdo's pass, and after Nano drilled home a second through a crowded goalmouth the result was in doubt right to the end.

Atlético Madrid drop to seventh though after they were beaten 0-3 by an improving Málaga. Once again Rondón and Baptista made the difference for the Andalusians, the former heading in a long cross from Jesús Gámez and the latter doing likewise a few minutes later from a centre from Seba Fernández. Quique eventually turned to the out of favour Diego Forlán, who at least tested Willy a time or two, but with the game coming to an end substitute Maresca put the result beyond doubt with a third goal after De Gea could only push out a shot from Baptista.

Málaga move on to 42 points, which in most seasons would be enough to stay up. However this year things are tight at the bottom, Almería the only club sure of going down after four years in the top flight after losing 2-0 to Getafe. Michel's side went ahead early on, Colunga getting on the end of a Pedro Ríos cross to beat Esteban in only the fourth minute. And Ríos himself made it two some eight minutes after the restart following good work by Mané. Ustari had to save from Goitom and Ulloa hit the post, but Miku and Parejo could have added to the scoreline before the referee called it a day. Getafe's win means that they climb out of the relegation zone and Osasuna drop in to the bottom three pending their game with relegation rivals Zaragoza on Sunday.

Deportivo are only a point above the Pamplona based team after a frustrating 2-2 draw at Sporting Gijón, the Galicians dropping two vital points thanks to two controversial penalties. Adrián gave the visitors the lead in the eighth minute with a shot off balance from Riki's pass which went in off a defender. However with ten minutes to go to the break referee Estrada Fernández awarded a penalty to the Asturians for what he considered to be hands by Laure, even though the ball clearly came off his back. Ayoze converted the spot kick, but five minutes later Adrián got his second of the evening after picking up a pass from Rubén Pérez. José Angel and André Castro both rattled the woodwork after that, but with the game in the fourth minute of injury time Estrada gave a second penalty to Sporting after Rubén Pérez and Barral clashed in the area, and Barral stepped up to save a point which keeps his team four points above their opponents in the table.

Hércules look doomed though after a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Racing Santander left them six points adrift of safety. All the goals came in the first half, Giovani heading the visitors in front from Diop's cross early on, and although Sendoa equalised with six minutes to go to the break, Giovani restored the lead a minute later. Two minutes after that Tiago Gomes made it all square again with a shot which deflected in off Tziolis, but before half time Henrique gave the Cantabrians the lead once again from Adrián González's free kick. Any hopes Hércules had of coming back again were ruined when Valdez was sent off after the break for what the referee considered to be an elbow on Cisma. (07.05.11)