Atletico's European hopes hit by 5-1 humiliation
Atletico Madrid's European hopes suffered a blow this evening as they slumped to a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Racing Santander in the Primera Division.
Racing had five different scorers as they gave their survival hopes an almighty boost.
The game was over as a contest by the break, by which time goals from Christian Fernandez (nine), Ezequiel Garay (17) and Mohamed Tchite (38) had them 3-0 up.
Diego Forlan pulled one back for Atletico with a 62nd-minute penalty but Pedro Munitis added a fourth for Racing three minutes later.
And Nikola Zigic rounded off the rout three minutes from time to leave Atletico a point adrift of the European places.
Villarreal gave their Champions League hopes a much-needed shot in the arm, although they required a controversial winning goal from Ruben Cani to beat struggling Recreativo Huelva 2-1.
Recre were left fuming after appearing to clear Cani's 67th-minute chip before it crossed the line but, after a delay, the goal was given and Villarreal could celebrate a vital win.
The visitors had earlier threatened an upset when Javier Camunas gave them a first-minute lead but Joseba Llorente levelled before the break.
Villarreal are now three points adrift of fourth-placed Valencia, while Recre are second bottom, three points from safety.
A brace from Alhassane Keita helped Real Mallorca to a 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid as they continued their climb away from the relegation zone.
Mallorca were propping up the division just over three months ago following a dismal run of form and relegation was looking a distinct possibility.
But, since losing to Osasuna at the start of February, the Balearic Island outfit have turned things around impressively and have picked up six victories and four draws in 11 league matches.
Three points tonight lifted Mallorca up to 11th, only one point below Valladolid in ninth and seven points above the bottom three.
Espanyol moved to within a point of safety following a 3-0 win at fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon.
Nene's first-half strike set the Catalans on their way before late efforts from Roman Martinez and Jose Callejon sealed their third win in four matches.
And Sporting's misery was compounded when striker David Barral was sent off after 77 minutes.
Sporting are now only one place and one point outside the drop zone.
Yesterday, Barcelona re-opened a six-point gap over Real Madrid at the top of the table by sweeping aside Champions League hopefuls Sevilla 4-0 at the Nou Camp.
The Catalans were at their free-flowing best as goals from Andres Iniesta and Samuel Eto'o before the break and Xavi and Thierry Henry in the second half sealed a thumping win.
Valencia won 2-1 at Real Betis, Malaga claimed a 3-2 win at Osasuna and Deportivo La Coruna beat Almeria 2-0.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid beat Getafe 3-2 and Numancia went down 2-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao.