Villarreal thump Gijon in La Liga tie

Indo Asian News Service

Villarreal (Spain), April 29 (IANS) A solid Villarreal CF beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 to sustain their hopes of finishing fifth in the Spanish football league and securing a spot in next season's Europa League.

With 63 points from 35 matches, Villarreal are four points ahead of sixth-place Athletic Club Bilbao in the La Liga standings, though the latter have a game in hand, reports Efe news agency.

For 18th-place Sporting, Friday night's loss leaves them needing six points to avoid relegation from the Spanish top division with just three matches to play.

The hosts generated the first chance of the night in the 13th minute, a shot by Roberto Soriano that forced Sporting's Isma Lopez to come to the aid of his goalkeeper with a stop on the line.

Soriano threatened again seven minutes later before Sporting began to show signs of life on the attack.

A great shot by Moi Gomez that hit the crossbar marked the start of an offensive flurry for the visitors, who would have taken the lead in the 31st minute but for Villarreal goalkeeper Andres Fernandez's spectacular stop against Xavi Torres.

The momentum shifted decisively to the home side when a defensive blunder left Roberto Soldado alone in front of the Sporting goal and he prevailed in the duel with custodian Ivan Cuellar to put Villarreal ahead in the 33rd minute.

Villarreal began the second half where they left off in the first, doubling their lead in the 47th minute with Cedric Bakambu's goal off a great ball from Jonathan Dos Santos.

Soldado nearly got his second of the night minutes later against the demoralised visitors. But the Villarreal fans didn't have to wait long for the third goal, delivered by Bakambu just before the hour mark.

The contest looked to be over at that point, yet Sporting battled on and Douglas produced a goal for the visitors in the 72nd minute.

--IANS

ajb/bg