La Liga review

Valencia tighten grip on third place

February 27, 2011

Valencia struck twice in the last 19 minutes to overturn an early deficit against Athletic Bilbao and strengthen their hold on third place with a 2-1 win.

Juan Mata is mobbed after scoring Valencia's first
GettyImagesJuan Mata is mobbed after scoring Valencia's first

• Saturday's review

Athletic took the lead through star striker Fernando Llorente, who turned 26 on Saturday, but his birthday celebrations were ruined by late goals from Valencia duo Juan Mata and Jonas Oliveira.

Mata drew the teams level in the 71st minute before January signing Jonas climbed off the bench to net his first goal for the club and give Los Che the points.

The result means Valencia extend their lead over fourth-placed Villarreal.

Nilmar struck deep into added time to deny Racing Santander a third successive victory and secure a valuable 2-2 draw for fourth-placed Villarreal at El Sardinero.

The Brazil striker swept home from close range in the 93rd minute after Mario Gaspar had flicked on from a corner.

It was a disappointing end to the match for Racing, who had dominated for virtually the whole game and looked set to seal a third straight win under new coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.

The Cantabrians went ahead after just three minutes when Pablo Pinillos set up Ariel Nahuelpan for a routine finish in the six-yard box following poor defending from the visitors. Marco Ruben equalised with a header after 66 minutes.

Racing responded and Giovani dos Santos scored his first goal since moving on loan to the club from Spurs but Nilmar levelled with just seconds left on the clock.

Levante came from behind to beat Osasuna 2-1 and boost their chances of survival with a vital win at the Ciudad de Valencia.

Goals from Sergio Ballesteros and Felipe Caicedo either side of half-time turned the game around after Walter Pandiani had put the visitors ahead.

Hercules and Getafe cancelled each other out in a lively fixture. Both sides remained true to their attacking instincts, despite poor results of late, but neither were able to find a breakthrough to boost their respective flagging league campaigns.

Hercules had defender Cristian Pulhac dismissed late on.