La Liga: Villarreal lose touch, Valencia battered

December 2, 2007

MADRID, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Valencia's season lurched from bad to downright awful after they were crushed 0-3 at home by Athletic Bilbao.

Ronald Koeman's side got the white handkerchief treatment from an angry Mestalla crowd as the Basque side strolled to victory with goals from Francisco Yeste and two from Fernando Llorente, who had an excellent game.

The visitors struck in the 33rd minute when Yeste fired a spectacular left-footed free-kick into the top corner past a static Santiago Canizares.

Llorente got in on the act with a typical centre forward's header in the 66th minute, before adding a third for Bilbao at the death after another mix up in the Valencia back line.

Villarreal missed their chance to stay in touch with Real Madrid at the top of the table when they went down 2-0 at Valladolid.

The defeat meant that Manuel Pellegrini's side remain level with Barcelona on 28 points in third spot in the table and are now four adrift of leaders Real who won 3-1 at home to Racing Santander on Saturday.

Villarreal went into the game having won on three of their last four outings but never looked comfortable against a determined Valladolid side that put them under real pressure in midfield and hit them hard on the break.

The home side went in front in the 18th minute when unmarked striker Joseba Llorente powered a header past Villarreal keeper Sebastian Viera after he met a fine cross from winger Sisi.

Former Villarreal striker Victor made it 2-0 early in the second half when he poked home from close range after a slick passing move involving Llorente and winger Jonathan Sesma.

Czech international Jaroslav Plasil scored his first goal in La Liga with a cracking volley from the right side of the area to put Osasuna in front against Deportivo two minutes into the second half.

Depor appeared to have earned a point when Ruben Castro helped in a goal-bound header from Uruguayan striker Sebastian Taborda late in the game.

But Portuguese striker Dady snatched a last-gasp win for Osasuna when Dudu Aouate spilled his free kick into the net.

Getafe fell behind when Levante striker Riga snapped home a rebound after keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri had saved his penalty in the 15th minute.

But striker Braulio struck twice in the second half to earn Michael Laudrup's side their fourth win in five games, first with a close-range volley and then with a far-post header.

Levante midfielder Inaki Descarga was knocked out following an accidental clash of heads, but regained consciousness after being taken to hospital and was reported to be out of danger.

Real Murcia striker Inigo put the visitors in front when he clipped in on the half volley after a catalogue of errors in the Real Mallorca defence.

But substitute Pierre Webo earned the islanders a point when he threw himself at an Ariel Ibagaza free kick and angled a diving header into the net midway through the second half.

An important comeback win for Recreativo at home to Real Zaragoza has taken the pressure off coach Victor Munoz.

The home side fell behind midway through the first half when Argentine striker Diego Milito scored his sixth of the season with a neat finish, but Portuguese midfielder Carlos Martins equalised four minutes later with a long distance drive.

Martins then earned Recreativo the win when he netted during a goalmouth scramble after he had missed a penalty given for a handball by Zaragoza defender Juanfran.