Cani hits wonder goal as Villarreal beat Osasuna
BARCELONA: A spectacular lob from the half-way line by Ruben Cani helped Villarreal to a 4-2 victory over Osasuna on Saturday which kept them in third place in La Liga and maintained their push for a place in Europe.
Villarreal went into the game with several important players missing but Marco Ruben took advantage of a rare start with the opening goal.
Osasuna drew level from a corner with Krisztian Vadocz heading home but they were soon behind again when Cani spotted keeper Ricardo Lopez off his line and lofted the ball from the half-way line over his head.
In an exciting end-to-end game Joan Capdevila and Gonzalo Rodriguez scored further goals for Villarreal with substitute Javier Calleja finding the back of the net in between for the visitors.
“We have played a lot of games and to maintain this level is not easy. We have managed it as a team by suffering and fighting in each game. This match was tough and to win without playing particularly well gives you a boost,” said Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido.
Osasuna coach Jose Antonio Camacho admitted that Cani’s goal was a big blow.
“I told the keeper to push forward a bit and they caught us out. We now need to keep working but we have to do more than that to win as we are working hard at the moment,” he said.
A brace from Jose Callejon gave Espanyol a 2-1 win over Sevilla which put them on the verge of the Champions League places but the real star was keeper Carlos Kameni.
Sevilla’s form has improved since Christmas and they dominated from the start but could not find a way passed the Cameroon shot-stopper.
Kameni showed his dexterity to parry headers from Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute and then Sevilla were made to pay for their profligate finishing when Callejon scored from a breakaway.
The Espanyol frontman found the back of the net a second time against the run of play after the break while Kameni was finally beaten by substitute Alvaro Negredo in injury time.
Early goals from Javi Martinez and Iker Muniain set Athletic Bilbao up for a 2-1 victory over Racing Santander.
More clinical finishing from the home side proved the difference as Racing Santander had plenty of possession but struggled in front of goal.
Pedro Munitis rounded keeper Gorka Iraizoz but shot over the cross bar while Kennedy hit the woodwork from 35 yards with a fine shot before Ivan Bolado earnt Racing a consolation.
Real Sociedad bounced back from four straight defeats with a convincing 4-0 win away to in-form Getafe.
Xabi Prieto sent them on their way from the penalty spot after nine minutes and then Antoine Griezmann and a Mikel Aranburu double secured the win.
Zaragoza came out on top 1-0 in the relegation scrap against Levante with Gabi Fernandez scoring the key goal while David Barral and Nacho Cases gave Sporting Gijon a 2-0 win over Hercules.
On Sunday, it is the turn of Malaga to face the champions Barcelona who are in imperious form and looking for a club record 28th straight game without defeat.
They equalled the previous record tally set in the 1974-75 season with a 5-0 Spanish Cup win over Real Betis where Lionel Messi once again stole the show with three goals but it could easily have been five.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola coach has been bombarded recently with questions over the renewal of his contract, which expires in the summer but for the moment he is concentrating on the Malaga match.
“I understand that people want an answer but the priority is Malaga. All (Malaga coach Manuel) Pellegrini’s sides play good football and are dangerous.
They come here with the necessity to get a good result so this will not be an
easy match,” said Guardiola.
Real Madrid remain on the shoulders of Barcelona but lack the fluidity and fire power of their rivals.
Cristiano Ronaldo came to the rescue with a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Villarreal last weekend and they are scouring the market for a goal scorer with Gonzalo Higuain a long term injury absentee.
Former striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has been linked with a move back to the club from Hamburg.
They face bottom side Almeria in disarray after three straight defeats.