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Apr 15, 2006

Gonzalez goal lifts Sociedad out of drop zone

MADRID, April 15 (Reuters) - A spectacular late strike from on-loan midfielder Mark Gonzalez gave Real Sociedad a 1-0 home win over Racing Santander which lifted the Basque side out of the relegation zone on Saturday.

Gonzalez, who joined from Liverpool in January, cracked in a superb left-foot volley from 20 metres with 15 minutes to go.

The victory pushed Sociedad up to 14th with 35 points from 33 games, one ahead of Racing, Espanyol and Real Mallorca and two clear of the drop zone.

The goal was the only bright moment in an otherwise dour encounter in which nerves got the better of two struggling sides.

The South African-born Chile international has scored four goals since joining Sociedad following a nine-month injury absence caused by a knee ligament injury.

Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez made it clear earlier this week he wants the winger to rejoin his club at the end of the season.

Mallorca missed a chance to ease their relegation worries after a 0-0 draw at home to Alaves, who replaced Sociedad in the drop zone on 33 points.

HONOURS EVEN

At the other end of the table, honours were shared by Deportivo Coruna and Sevilla as the two teams bidding for a place in Europe drew 0-0 at the Riazor.

The result meant UEFA Cup semi-finalists Sevilla remained fifth in the table, two points ahead of sixth-placed Depor.

Depor goalkeeper Jose Molina and opposite number Andres Palop produced several top-class saves.

Palop made a stunning reflex stop to deny Xisco in the second half while Molina did well to get a hand to a sharp shot from Javier Saviola moments later.

Leaders Barcelona edged closer to retaining the title with a 1-0 victory over fellow Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal on Friday, Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o scoring the winner.

The Catalans are 14 points clear of Valencia and Real Madrid with five games left.

Valencia host King's Cup winners Espanyol on Sunday, the same day Real meet Getafe.