Valencia vs. Málaga  5 - 1

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La Liga wrap: Valencia romp past Malaga

21 April 2013 00:58

Four goals in six first-half minutes have seen Valencia thump Malaga 5-1 to move within one point of the UEFA Champions League spots.

Valencia scored in the 25th, 28th, 30th and 31st minutes at home to leap to a 4-0 lead on Saturday and while Julio Baptista pulled one back for Malaga in first-half stoppage time, Ever Banega's 56th-minute goal ended the visitors' resistance.

The victory took Valencia above Malaga into fifth position, one point and one spot behind Real Sociedad, who currently hold La Liga's spot in the qualifying stages of next season's Champions League.

The hosts took the lead after a move down the right ended with the ball at the feet of Dani Parejo, who, thanks to a deflection off Malaga's Martin Demichelis, dribbled into the penalty area and produced a calm finish.

Just three minutes later, a driving run from left-back Aly Cissokho ended with the Frenchman crossing into the box for Roberto Soldado to score.

Soldado made it 3-0 on the half-hour mark with a penalty and from the re-start, Valencia stole the ball back, attacked down the right through Jonas and while his shot was saved, Sergio Canales was there to tap home the rebound.

Baptista gave the visiting Malaga fans something to cheer about in first-half stoppage time when he curled a free-kick over the wall and into the net but Banega's thumping strike after half-time ended any thoughts of a comeback.

Meanwhile, league leaders Barcelona had to wait until the 84th minute to overcome Levante with Cesc Fabregas scoring in a 1-0 victory.

Barcelona had 80 percent possession and took 18 shots to three at the Camp Nou but Levante looked like they would hold on for a point until Fabregas took Alexis Sanchez's pass with six minutes remaining and thumped his shot past the outstretched hand of visiting goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Levante's goalkeeper had earlier saved a first-half penalty from David Villa but Navas could do nothing about Fabregas' late strike, which ensured Barcelona remain 13 points clear at the top of La Liga.

In other results, Real Madrid defeated Real Betis 3-1 and relegation-threatened Granada claimed a crucial point with a 1-1 draw versus Real Valladolid.

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La Liga preview: Valencia in pursuit of Champions League

18 April 2013 11:06

Valencia will look to continue their 100 percent record at home versus Malaga in this decade as they strive for a UEFA Champions League spot.

After almost stealing victory away to Espanyol last week only to concede an equaliser with the final kick of the game in a 3-3 draw, Valencia will host Malaga on Saturday, desperate for victory to stay in touch with fourth-placed Real Sociedad.

Valencia, who are sixth in La Liga, are four points adrift of Sociedad, who occupy Spain's avenue into the qualifying playoffs of next season's Champions League.

While third position and an automatic berth in the 2013-14 Champions League seems a bridge too far for Valencia, the qualifying spot is definitely up for grabs, especially with fifth-placed Malaga ineligible for continental football next season.

That would mean that if Malaga finished fourth and Valencia claimed fifth at the end of the season, it would be the latter who would earn a spot in the Champions League qualifying process.

Valencia have won their past three matches when Malaga have visited the Estadio de Mestalla.

In fact, Malaga, who needed a stoppage-time winner from Julio Baptista to overcome Osasuna 1-0 last week, have not won at Valencia's home ground in the past 10 years.

If Valencia win again this weekend it will set Ernesto Valverde's side up nicely to take on Sociedad the week after in what could be a head-to-head battle for fourth position.

For that to happen, Sociedad would need to fail to win away to 15th-placed Osasuna on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Real Betis will face a tough trip to take on Real Madrid on Saturday as they attempt to stay in the hunt for fourth position.

Betis, who are two points behind Valencia and Malaga in seventh, drew 3-3 with local rivals Sevilla last week and probably need to become the first Spanish side in seven games to pick up points away to Real Madrid to stay in touch with their rivals for fourth.

La Liga leaders Barcelona will host Levante ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg versus Bayern Munich, while third-placed Atletico Madrid will travel to Sevilla.

Mallorca and Rayo Vallecano will kick off the round's action on Friday, while Celta de Vigo and Real Zaragoza will play the final game on Monday.

In other La Liga fixtures, Granada will host Real Valladolid, Getafe are set to face Espanyol and Deportivo La Coruna will take on Athletic Bilbao.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +75 100
2 38 +61 85
3 38 +34 76
4 38 +21 66
5 38 +13 65
6 38 +3 57
7 38 +1 56
8 38 -16 53
9 38 +4 50
10 38 -14 47
11 38 -17 46
12 38 -21 45
13 38 -9 44
14 38 -9 43
15 38 -17 42
16 38 -17 39
17 38 -15 37
18 38 -29 36
19 38 -23 35
20 38 -25 34