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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: Arda stunner helps Atletico beat Espanyol

La Liga: Arda stunner helps Atletico beat Espanyol

April 23, 2012 00:54 IST

A quickfire Arda Turan double, including an acrobatic bicycle kick, fired Atletico Madrid to a 3-1 home win over Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday and lifted the Europa League semi-finalists up to seventh.

The Turkey playmaker settled the match at a sun-bathed Calderon when he volleyed in Juanfran's centre in the 59th minute before dancing his way through a cluster of defenders and netting off a post two minutes later.

Diego Godin had nodded Atletico in front in the ninth minute and Didac Vila levelled for the visitors with a shot that went in off the underside of the bar 10 minutes later.

Atletico's victory boosted their chances of playing in Europe again next season and put them on 48 points with four games left, level with sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao and a point behind Levante, who drew 1-1 at Sevilla on Saturday.

Bilbao won 1-0 at bottom club Racing Santander in Sunday's earlier kickoff, a result which left the Cantabrian club on the verge of relegation.

Gaizka Toquero struck early for the Basques, who host Portuguese side Sporting in their Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday having lost last week's first leg in Lisbon 2-1.

Leaders Real Madrid have one hand on a first league title in four years after Cristiano Ronaldo struck a 73rd-minute winner in a dramatic 2-1 win at champions Barcelona on Saturday that stretched their advantage to seven points.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola conceded the league at his post-match news conference and the bitter rivals could meet again in next month's Champions League final if they can reverse first-leg deficits in this week's semi-final second legs.

Barca host Chelsea at the Nou Camp on Tuesday after losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge while Bayern Munich look to protect a 2-1 lead at Real's Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday.

Atletico's Europa League opponents Valencia, 4-2 down from the first leg in Madrid, can cement their grip on third and an automatic place in next season's Champions League when they host Real Betis later on Sunday.

Unai Emery's side have 52 points, one ahead of fourth-placed Malaga, who play at Osasuna on Monday.

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