La Liga - Nine-man Sporting rescue a point

Sun, 13 Mar 19:53:00 2011

Villarreal squandered a chance to trim the gap to third-placed Valencia to one point when they conceded a late penalty to gift nine-man Sporting Gijon a 1-1 draw in La Liga

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Giuseppe Rossi had put Villarreal ahead in the 29th minute at the Madrigal when the United States-born Italy striker reacted quicker than his marker to sweep a loose ball in off the post, his 15th of the campaign.

The club with the distinctive canary-yellow kit looked to be cruising to only a second win in their last seven league games when Gijon defender Jose Angel Valdes earned a second yellow card with 25 minutes remaining and captain Rafael Sastre was shown a straight red for bringing down Rossi in the 90th.

However, when David Barral went down in the penalty area in added time the referee pointed to the spot and Diego Castro scored with an audacious chip into the centre of the goal.

Villarreal have 51 points from 28 matches, three behind Valencia, who held on to Spain's third automatic Champions League qualification berth despite crashing to a 4-0 defeat at Real Zaragoza on Saturday.

It was a further blow to Unai Emery's side following their elimination from Europe's elite club competition by Schalke 04 on Wednesday.

Leaders Barcelona can restore their seven-point advantage over Real Madrid with a win at Sevilla in Sunday's late kickoff.

Karim Benzema scored twice to lead Real to a 2-0 home win over Hercules on Saturday as they rested players ahead of next week's visit of Olympique Lyon in the Champions League.

Barca, bidding for a third straight domestic title, have 74 points from 27 matches, Real have 70 and Valencia 54.

In other matches on Sunday, European hopefuls Espanyol ended a run of six defeats in their last seven matches when they beat 10-man Deportivo Coruna 2-0 to climb above Athletic Bilbao into fifth on 43 points.

Bilbao can reclaim fifth spot with a win at Getafe in the Monday game.

Malaga secured only their seventh win of the campaign when they won 2-0 at Real Sociedad but remain bottom of the standings, level on 26 points with Hercules and Almeria.

Reuters

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