( dpa )- A late 1-0 win Saturday at lowly Murcia keeps Villarreal in third place in the Spanish Liga.
Villarreal won thanks to a goal in the third minute from Guille Franco.
The Mexico striker controlled a clever pass from Josico and - despite a suspicion of offside - scored with a low shot.
Until then a goalless draw had seemed on the cards. But Villarreal refused to settle for a point and finally reaped a rich reward for their ambition.
Manuel Pellegrini's team now have 42 points from 23 games, six less than second-place Barcelona, who are at Sevilla later Saturday.
Villarreal are now three points ahead of fourth-placed Espanyol, who play Sunday at home to troubled Recreativo Huelva.
Saturday's other early game was a lively 1-1 draw between Deportivo Coruna and Getafe.
An own goal from Getafe defender Mario Alvarez just before the interval gave Deportivo the lead. But Getafe improved in the second half, and Ikechukwu Uche equalized for them on the hour with a powerful drive.
The disappointing draw leaves fallen giants Deportivo sixth from bottom with 24 points.
Getafe stay in 11th place with 28 points.