La Liga round-up
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Valencia started life without Claudio Ranieri by beating Real Betis 2-1 at the Mestalla.
Valencia started life without Claudio Ranieri by beating UEFA Champions League rivals Real Betis 2-1 at the Mestalla.
Ranieri left as Che coach on Friday after the club's Uefa Cup and his temporary replacement Antonio Lopez oversaw a spirited victory over Betis.
The visitors did take the lead on 13 minutes when Marcos Assuncao scored his eighth goal in as many games by curling a 25-yard free kick into the back of the net.
The hosts could have been quickly level when Fabio Aurelio's free kick, which had been awarded for handball, was blocked by the arm of Juan Canas in the box. Aurelio stepped up for the penalty but his low effort was smartly saved by Antonio Doblas.
On the half-hour, Valencia were back on level terms after Aurelio redeemed himself for his spot kick miss by whipping in a cross for Ruben Baraja to head home.
Assuncao struck the crossbar with another trademark free kick on the stroke of half time before a dominant Valencia took over in the second half.
Aurelio was twice denied by Doblas who, along with the woodwork, was keeping Valencia at bay.
Rufete's shot deflected off David Rivas and onto the post, while from the resulting corner, Doblas beat away another Aurelio shot.
Carlos Marchena's ball into the box glanced off a Betis defender and rebounded off the inside of the post before Valencia bagged the winning goal on 72 minutes.
A neat passing move saw Aurelio and Pablo Aimar combine to free Mista in the penalty area and he guided the ball past Doblas.
In the aftermath of the goal, Betis had goalscorer Assuncao sent off for a second bookable offence after he took his protests about a supposed handball in the build-up to Mista's goal too far.
Sevilla's push for a Champions League spot suffered a setback as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to struggling Racing Santander.
The hosts did move up to third in La Liga courtesy of the points but, after twice taking the lead, they would have expected to mop up the win.
Julio Baptista broke the deadlock after 13 minutes but the visitors were level three minutes before the interval courtesy of David Aganzo.
Substitute Dario Silva restored Sevilla's lead 12 minutes from time but Racing snared a useful point in their battle to beat the drop on 84 minutes via Mario Regueiro.
Atletico Madrid remain in the hunt for a European spot after edging past Real Sociedad at home.
Antonio Lopez scored the sole goal of the game on 25 minutes while Sociedad were reduced to ten men in the final minute when Adriano Rossato was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Malaga recorded an emphatic win on their travels as they hammered Osasuna 6-1, as the hosts finished the match with nine men.
A flying start saw Malaga 2-0 up after 12 minutes through goals from Miguel Angel and Duda.
Fernando Baiano netted either side of half time before John Aloisi pulled a goal back on 51 minutes for the home side.
Moha was then sent off before Malaga grabbed their fifth through Juan Rodriguez.
Cesar Cruchaga picked up two bookings in a minute to receive his marching orders prior to former Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope putting further gloss on the result nine minutes from time.
David Villa's 40th minute goal helped Real Zaragoza to see off Villarreal, whose own Champions League ambitions suffered a jolt.