Malaga, Bilbao stunned; Los Che win

There were surprise defeats for Malaga and Athletic Bilbao against Deportivo La Coruna and Levante respectively while Valencia secured a comeback win against Granada.

Football News: Martin Demichelis, Malaga

Deportivo La Coruna gave new manager Domingos a winning start on Saturday night as the struggling team beat high-flying Malaga to move closer to an escape from the La Liga relegation zone.

A first win since early November for the Galicians was secured by a goal from Pizzi 12 minutes into the second half, when he turned Martin Demichelis before sending a shot high past goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Deportivo remain in the relegation zone only on goal difference, while Malaga stay in fourth place, level on points with Real Betis who beat Real Zaragoza last night.

Levante are in pursuit of Malaga and are just one point behind now after coming from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the Ciutat de Valencia.

Athletic's Aritz Aduriz headed in Andoni Iraola's cross for his 15th goal of the season early on, but Levante levelled with a thunderous strike from Christian Lell.

Athletic were reduced to 10 men after Aymeric Laporte fouled Roger to deny him a clear run on goal, and Levante made their man advantage count almost immediately as Vicente Iborra scored to give the hosts a 2-1 interval lead. Levante made the points safe in the 70th minute when Nabil El-Zhar drilled in a low drive.

Valencia began the year positively as second-half goals from Jonas and Pablo Piatti helped them come from behind to beat Granada 2-1.

Granada had Mikel Rico sent off shortly after the half-hour mark but went ahead four minutes into the second half when Brayan Angulo volleyed in.

Jonas headed an equaliser from a corner delivered by Piatti, who then redirected Roberto Soldado's cross-shot into an empty net eight minutes from time.

Valencia climbed to seventh place, with Granada still just a point above the relegation zone.

Sevilla eased their relegation concerns with a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Osasuna in the final match of the day.

Defender Emir Spahic scored the only goal, after 83 minutes, to haul Sevilla seven points clear of the bottom three.

On Friday, Real Betis did their chances of securing Champions League football next season a world of good with a hard fought 2-1 win over Real Zaragoza.

Sunday's Preview

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes is refusing to take the title for granted as his side prepare for Sunday's derby against Espanyol at the Nou Camp.

Tito Vilanova's side are nine points clear at the top of the La Liga table after 16 victories and a draw from their 17 league matches this season.

They take on an Espanyol side third from bottom, but Valdes is in no doubt how important the match against their city rivals will be.

"We have not yet finished the first lap, the reality is that we have good cushion, but not a definitive one," he told reporters.

"There is a long way to go and many points to play for. All teams deserve the same respect in a very competitive league, you cannot let up."

Underdogs Espanyol are buoyed by a 2-2 draw they registered with champions Real Madrid in December.

"The game at the Bernabeu's is a reference point," said striker Sergio Garcia. "Nobody expected anything and we got a draw we deserved."

Hector Moreno is equally positive that his side can get a result.

"What counts in the end is what we do, as the team have a good chance to get something from there," he said. "We are in a good place, working hard, and we want to continue."

Madrid's title challenge may be all but over with Jose Mourinho's side 16 points behind Barcelona, but defender Sergio Ramos is not giving up and has backed his side to beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.

"I think if you ask any fan, whether old or new, we continue to fight for every title," he said. "The league is complicated but not impossible. And what better way to start than against Real.

"It is possible the team is anxious. I do not think that's the problem, but the break was good to reflect.

"But we are on the right track and the attitude is always good."

Ramos and Pepe are both banned, although the Portuguese also faces a month off after surgery on an ankle injury, whilst Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo are both also injured.

With Raul Albiol also still suffering with an ankle injury, Raphael Varane and Ricardo Carvalho are likely to be paired together in central defence, while Nacho or Michael Essien will once again have to fill in at left-back.

Sociedad are seventh and are unbeaten since early November and midfielder David Zurutuza is confident that his side can spring a surprise when they visit the Bernabeu.

He told Diario Vasco: "Real Sociedad have a team capable of winning in any stadium. We know that it is a very difficult place to go because everyone knows the players that Real Madrid have, but if we are ambitious and they have a bad day who is to say we can't take something?"

Sunday's other matches see Celta Vigo play Real Valladolid and Real Mallorca host second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Monday's match is Rayo Vallecano against Getafe.

Friday's La Liga Result

Real Zaragoza 1-2 Real Betis

Saturday's La Liga Results

Levante 3-1 Athletic Bilbao

Granada 1-2 Valencia

Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 Malaga

Sevilla 1-0 Osasuna

Sunday's La Liga Fixtures

Celta Vigo vs Valladolid

Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad

Barcelona vs Espanyol

Mallorca vs Atletico Madrid

Monday's La Liga Fixture

Rayo Vallecano vs Getafe

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