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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: Valencia stumble to 4-0 defeat at Espanyol

La Liga: Valencia stumble to 4-0 defeat at Espanyol

April 15, 2012 19:52 IST

Third-placed Valencia missed a chance to open a five-point lead over chasing Malaga when the Europa League semi-finalists crashed to a 4-0 reverse at Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday.

-La Liga: Ronaldo, Messi set scoring record of 41

Cristian Gomez put the home side ahead in the 26th minute at a sun-bathed and festive Cornella-El Prat stadium when he powered a Sergio Garcia centre into the net from close range.

Joan Verdu doubled the lead four minutes later with a superb strike from just outside the penalty area that arrowed into the top corner, Alvaro Vazquez added a 58th-minute third after a mix-up in the visitors' defence and Kalu Uche rolled in a fourth around 10 minutes from time.

The match kicked off at noon local time as part of an effort to secure more TV viewers in the Middle East and Asia.

Ambitious Qatar-owned Malaga can climb above Valencia into third and an automatic Champions League qualification slot with a win at home to Real Sociedad later on Sunday.

Valencia, who play their Europa League semi-final first leg at La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid on Thursday, have 52 points from 33 of 38 matches, with Malaga on 50 in fourth and fifth-placed Levante on 48.

Barcelona-based Espanyol are eighth on 45 points, level with seventh-placed Sevilla, who play at Getafe in the Monday game.

Leaders Real Madrid will have a four-point advantage over chasing Barcelona when they meet at the Nou Camp for the second 'Clasico' of the campaign next weekend after the arch rivals both won on Saturday.

Real, whose Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo broke his own Spanish record with his 41st goal of the campaign, came from a goal down to beat lowly Sporting Gijon 3-1 at the Bernabeu.

Two hours later Argentina's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi equalled Ronaldo's mark with both goals in Barca's 2-1 comeback win at fifth-placed Levante.

Real's victory also meant Jose Mourinho's side matched the club's Spanish record of 107 goals scored in a season set under Welsh coach John Toshack 22 years ago.

Real have 85 points, with Barca, chasing a fourth straight title, on 81. If the pair finish level the title will be decided on head-to-head record, under which Barca currently have the advantage after winning 3-1 in Madrid in December.

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