Football-Spain: Villarreal go fourth by thrashing troubled Deportivo

( dpa )- Villarreal moved up to fourth in the Spanish Liga on Sunday by coming from behind to thrash troubled Deportivo Coruna 4-3.

The heartening win leaves Manuel Pellegrini's team with 35 points at the halfway stage (19 games), just one point behind third-placed Espanyol , who were surprisingly beaten 1-0 down in Almeria , on a late goal from Kalu Uche .

Barcelona are second on 40 after their 4-0 thrashing of Murcia on Saturday. Leaders Real Madrid, currently on 44, are away to bottom team Levante later on Sunday.

The thrashing in Villarreal leaves Deportivo second from bottom, and will probably mean the sack for embattled coach Miguel Angel Lotina .

On Saturday Lotina decided to suspend goalkeepers Gustavo Munua and Dudu Aouate all season, after Munua punched the latter after a training-ground argument.

Lotina placed his faith in 20 year-old third-choice keeper Fabricio Agosto , who rewarded him with a shaky debut.

Sergio Gonzalez gave Deportivo an early lead from the penalty spot, only for Guiseppe Rossi to quickly level after Villarreal had been awarded their own spot kick.

Defender Pablo Amo restored Depor's lead after the interval, only for Nihat Kahveci to put Villarreal ahead with two quickfire goals.

Amo was then sent off and Jon Dahl Tomasson made it 4-2 from the penalty spot. Andres Guardado pulled another goal back for Depor in injury time, but it came too late to save the Galicians from another defeat.

Fifth-placed Atletico Madrid, now one point behind Villarreal, are at home to crisis club Valencia in Sunday's late match.

Racing Santander remain in sixth place after a handy 2-0 win away to Osasuna , who crash down to third from bottom, three points above Deportivo .

Santander are now five points ahead of seventh-placed Valencia.

Sevilla are eighth after losing 2-0 in Bilbao on Saturday. In ninth place now are Valladolid, 3-1 winners on Sunday over Recreativo Huelva .

Joseba Llorente was the star in Valladolid with a handsome hat- trick.

In Sunday's other early games, Zaragoza were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw against Mallorca , and Betis beat Getafe 3-2, to move out of the danger zone.

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