Valencia took charge of the battle for La Liga’s final UEFA Champions League spot by beating struggling Eibar 3-1 in La Liga on Sunday, while crisis-club Elche secured their top-flight status.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men hosted Eibar knowing that victory would move them three points clear of Sevilla after the UEFA Europa League holders’ loss to Real Madrid – who Valencia face next – and a comfortable triumph never looked in doubt against the Basques.
Centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, who has played a huge part in Valencia’s success this term, opened the scoring after 25 minutes, heading in Jose Gaya’s pinpoint cross.
Captain Dani Parejo’s third goal in as many games doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half with a 25-yard effort which oozed class and, although Mikel Arruabarrena netted late on, Paco Alcacer had already put the match beyond lowly Eibar.
Ten-man Elche claimed a commendable 2-1 win at Malaga to stave off relegation, though they could yet find themselves in trouble due to their financial problems.
Top-scorer Jonathas, who looks destined to be sold to raise funds at the end of the season, continued his fine debut year in Spain with a 29th-minute opener – his 12th of the campaign.
A red card for goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton gave Malaga the opportunity to level from the penalty spot 19 minutes from time, but Duda fired against the post and Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic by scoring a second goal before Javi Guerra’s 90th-minute consolation.
Despite Elche players going without pay for long periods of the season, victory takes them 10 points clear of the bottom three with three games to go.
Granada gave their survival hopes a boost by beating Getafe 2-1 in Madrid, Youssef El-Arabi’s brace doing the damage, though Jose Ramon Sandoval’s men remain three points adrift of Andalusian rivals Almeria.
The day’s early kick-off saw Rayo Vallecano leave Espanyol with a 1-1 draw from their mid-table battle, with Jose Canas being shown a late red card after two bookings for the Barcelona outfit.
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