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La Liga wrap: Betis shock Malaga

Real Betis have given their European qualification hopes a boost with a 3-0 victory over fourth-placed Malaga in La Liga.

Real Betis have given their European qualification hopes a boost with a 3-0 victory over fourth-placed Malaga in La Liga.

Headers from Jorge Molina and Mario put Betis 2-0 up after 27 minutes and the home team effectively wrapped up the three points when Dorlan Pabon added a third goal in first-half stoppage time.

Betis entered Sunday’s game having not won in seven matches across all competitions, while Malaga were undefeated in four La Liga fixtures, although they had lost 1-0 to Porto in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

But Betis took a shock lead against the club sitting four spots above them on the table when Molina headed Benat’s corner home in the first minute.

Benat set up the hosts’ second goal as well, another corner finding Mario’s head and the 31-year-old defender powered the ball into the back of the net.

Molina missed a penalty in the 35th minute but it mattered little when Pabon scored just before half-time.

Pabon got on the end of a left-wing cross but his header was saved by Malaga goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero, however, Betis’ Colombian attacker got to the rebound, spun on the spot and curled the ball over the visiting gloveman into the top corner to make it 3-0 at the break.

Malaga had Ignacio Camacho sent off in the 63rd minute for a second yellow card and Betis claimed the win, moving up to seventh with 39 points, just three behind Malaga.

Celta de Vigo improved their chances of avoiding relegation with a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Granada.

Iago Aspas put Celta in front in the 24th minute with a brilliant finish after the ball fell kindly for him in the area, lifting the ball over Granada goalkeeper Tono.

Just four minutes later, Granada’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo equalised in spectacular fashion, as he smashed a volley past Javi Varas in Celta’s goal.

The home fans had to wait for their team’s sixth win of the season until Mario Bermejo scored the decisive goal in the 81st minute, his miss-kick looping into the net.

The win takes Celta to 23 points, just two behind 17th-placed Osasuna and a position outside the relegation zone, while Granada – who are in 15th spot – remain on 26 points.

Also on Sunday, Atletico Madrid needed a penalty from Radamel Falcao to overcome Espanyol to maintain their four-point margin over third-placed Real Madrid.

Falcao slotted a 38th-minute penalty after Hector Moreno brought down Diego Costa in the penalty area and Atletico Madrid held on for the three points after Gabi was sent off in first-half injury time.

Atletico Madrid (56 points) remain 12 points behind league-leaders Barcelona but they continue to keep Real Madrid (52 points) at bay.

Sun 24 February, 2013
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