La Liga: Levante defeat Osasuna, Malaga draw with Valladolid, Elche triumph
Levante saw off Osasuna, Elche claimed a late victory against Celta Vigo and Malaga drew with Valladolid.
Last Updated: 01/03/14 11:17pm
Levante's new year charge for a European berth continued on Saturday as they beat Osasuna 2-0 - despite playing the last half-hour with a man less.
Joaquin Caparros' men looked more likely to be embroiled in a relegation fight after losing six of seven league matches around Christmas, but since suffering a 2-0 derby defeat to Valencia on January 4 they have compiled an unbeaten eight-match run to storm up the standings.
Their latest success came courtesy of first-half goals from Papakouli Diop and Ruben Garcia, although they were made to sweat for the points after losing Victor Casadesus to a red card in the 60th minute.
Osasuna could not find a way back into the match, though, to leave Levante seventh and within seven points of sixth-placed Real Sociedad, who face a tough trip to Sevilla on Sunday.
Elche claimed a last-gasp victory over Celta Vigo as substitute Carles Gil's superb late goal saw them secure an important three points at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.
Elche goalkeeper Manu kept his side in the game as he saved well from Fabian Orellana's free-kick midway through the second period before producing a brave double stop to deny Andreu Fontas' attempted follow-up.
And it was left to young striker Carles Gil to settle the contest five minutes from time as he exchanged passes with Coro before showing quick feet to work an opening and firing beyond Yoel.
The home side have rocketed up to 12th and now have a six-point cushion over the relegation zone, while Celta Vigo are just one point and one place better off.
Espanyol's hopes of surging into Europa League contention suffered a setback on Saturday evening as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Getafe.
The Periquitos had the chance to move to the brink of the European qualification places with victory and if other results went their way, but finished the day still in mid-table and just six points above their hosts.
Javier Aguirre's side headed to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez having won two of their previous three Primera Division matches, but could not find a way through the Getafe defence.
Malaga and Real Valladolid had to settle for a point apiece from their relegation battle which left both sides with plenty of work still to do to avoid the drop after a 1-1 draw.
Roque Santa Cruz put Malaga ahead after 13 minutes, but Daniel Larsson levelled for the visitors after half an hour.
The result kept Malaga three points ahead of their opponents in the fight for survival, but this was a match they would have been looking to win to pull further clear of the bottom three.