Villarreal and Atletico Madrid both slip up at home

Society Materials 3 February 2008 22:51 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Champions League hopefuls Villarreal and Atletico Madrid both slipped up at home on Sunday, being held to 1-1 draws by midtable sides Mallorca and Murcia.

Thus ends a poor week for Villarreal and Atletico , who were edged out of the King's Cup by Barcelona and Valencia.

Villarreal took the lead in the 27th minute when Guiseppe Rossi converted from the penalty spot, after Santi Cazorla had been pulled down by Hector Belenguer .

But 11 minutes later Mallorca were given a penalty of their own, when Gonzalo Rodriguez was adjudged to have pushed Sergio Ballesteros at a corner. Angelos Basinas calmly made it 1-1 from the spot.

Villarreal pushed strongly for the winner towards the end, but were kept at bay by a solid Mallorca defence .

"I'm disappointed," Rossi told Radio Nacional de Espana , "because we shouldn't drop two points at home in this way."

It was a similar story in Madrid, where Atletico were shut out by hard-working Murcia.

Murcia went ahead in the 52nd minute through a Jofre Mateu penalty, after Atletico defender Fabiano Eller had pulled down Ivan Alonso.

Luis Garcia equalized for Atletico 11 minutes later with a sweet left-foot drive, after picking his way through the Murcia defence .

But Atletico were then crippled by teenager Sergio Aguero limping off injured - and by the poor form of fellow striker Diego Forlan .

These draws leave Villarreal third - with 39 points from 22 games - and Atletico fourth, on 38.

In second place, on 44, are Barcelona, who are home to lowly Osasuna later on Sunday.

A win for Barca will leave Frank Rijkaard's team six points behind leaders Real Madrid, who on Saturday suffereda shock 2-0 defeat down in Almeria .

Espanyol , currently fifth on 36 points, will move up to joint third with Villarreal if they manage to win away to Getafe in Sunday's late game.

Racing Santander remain sixth, on 34, after battling out a 1-1 draw away to doomed bottom team Levante .

Sunday saw the resurgence of two teams who have punched below their weight so far this season: Sevilla and Valencia.

Sevilla won 2-1 down in Huelva with two second-half goals from league top scorer Luis Fabiano . The Brazilian is now two goals clear at the top of the scorers' chart, with 16 goals.

Valencia, for their part, scored their first league win since November, 2-0 in Valladolid with late goals from Juan Mata and David Villa.

Sevilla now move up to seventh, Valencia to ninth.

In eighth place are surprise package Almeria , in tenth place are Zaragoza , 1-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao .

The defeat at home to Sevilla leaves Huelva second from bottom with 22 points, one point less than Deportivo Coruna , who on Saturday threw themselves a lifeline by winning 1-0 away to fellow strugglers Betis .