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By ESPN Staff

Valencia hit five to crush Villlarreal

Valencia took a giant step towards securing themselves a third-place finish in the Primera Division with a 5-0 victory over local rivals Villarreal at the Mestalla.

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Roberto Soldado, who netted all four goals in last weekend's 4-2 win at Getafe, continued his fine run of form by opening the scoring in the 14th minute.

Juan Mata notched twice in the second half - either side of an Ever Banega strike - before Soldado's second goal sealed the rout to increase Valencia's advantage over fourth-placed Villarreal to six points with seven games remaining.

At the Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid boosted their bid for a European berth by claiming a deserved 3-0 victory over freefalling Real Sociedad.

First-half goals from Filipe Luis and Mario Suarez set Atletico on their way and captain Sergio Aguero sealed the spoils with his side's third 12 minutes from time.

The victory, Atletico's second in succession following their away win over Osasuna, saw the Rojiblancos move level on 45 points with sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who lost to Real Madrid on Saturday.

In-form Sporting Gijon followed up their stunning win over Real Madrid with another 1-0 triumph against Osasuna that left the Asturian side within touching distance of safety.

David Barral struck the only goal of the game midway through the second half following a bad defensive error as Sporting made it three successive 1-0 wins and 13 points from their last five games.

It also saw them climb up to 11th place in the standings - eight points clear of the relegation zone with only seven games remaining.

Rafa Jorda equalised a minute from time in a 1--1 draw at Racing Santander to extend Levante's unbeaten run in La Liga to seven matches and move the Valencia-based outfit a step closer to retaining their top-flight status.

Nano's own goal had given Racing the lead 13 minutes before half-time, but Levante never gave up and got their reward in the closing stages when Jorda beat Tono to earn the promoted side a 1-1 draw and keep them nine points clear of the bottom three with just seven games left.

Relegation-threatened Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna shared a mutually unsatisfactory 0-0 draw at La Rosaleda, while Hercules missed the chance to move out of the drop zone as they too were held to a goalless home draw by off-form Espanyol.


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