Comeback against Villarreal leaves Atletico Madrid fifth
Atletico Madrid moved up to fifth in the Spanish Liga on Sunday, with an epic 3-2 comeback defeat of fourth-placed Villarreal, dpa reported.
Just as against Barcelona two weeks ago, Atletico were roared on to victory by a euphoric crowd in the Estadio Calderon, and Atletico's heroes were South American strikers Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan.
New coach Abel Resino has taken some harsh criticism since Wednesday for his decision to leave Forlan on the bench for the 0-0 draw away to FC Porto, which saw Atletico say goodbye to the Champions League.
He was wise not to repeat the mistake on Sunday - and was rewarded with another determined display from the Uruguayan forward, despite having an early penalty saved by Diego Lopez.
Matias Fernandez gave Villarreal an early lead, Cani made it 2-0 for the visitors seven minutes into the second half. But Aguero immediately reduced arrears.
Ten minutes from time Forlan made it 2-2, and just two minutes later Antonio Lopez headed in a Simao corner to give Atletico another memorable win.
Forlan and company are now joint fifth with Malaga with 43 points from 27 games, three points fewer than Villarreal.
Earlier on Sunday, Malaga were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw by third-placed Sevilla.
With just 15 minutes left in Malaga, the hosts were winning 2-0 - thanks to two first-half goals from veteran striker Salva Ballesta - and on their way to fourth place.
But then Malaga had left-back Javier Calleja sent off. And Sevilla managed to salvage a point with late goals from Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano.
"We should really hung on for the win," said Malaga playmaker Apono, who added that "today's was an important game for us."
Sevilla are third with 51 points, nine behind second-placed Real Madrid, who won 5-2 away to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and thus maintain the pressure on leaders Barcelona, who are away to Almeria later on Sunday.
Another team who missed the chance to move up on Sunday are Deportivo Coruna, who fall down to seventh, on 42, after crashing 3-2 away to Sporting Gijon.
Crisis club Valencia stay eighth after being held 1-1 at home by Recreativo Huelva on Saturday.
Huelva are now seventh from bottom with 30 points, followed by Betis and Mallorca on 29.
Betis played out a 0-0 draw at home to Osasuna, Mallorca drew 3-3 away to bottom team Espanyol.
Getafe are now fourth from bottom, on 28 points, after a late 1-0 defeat in Valladolid - and coach Victor Munoz is in danger.
Getafe are just two points ahead of third-from-bottom Osasuna. Then come Numancia - who were thrashed 5-0 in Santander - on 23 and hapless Espanyol on 22.