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Valencia keep heat on leaders

Madrid: Spanish champions Valencia closed to within two points of leaders Real Sociedad after a gritty 2-0 home victory over Malaga in the first division Saturday. Deportivo Coruna also maintained their title push with a 1-0 win at Valladolid, while further down the table Barcelona eased their relegation fears with a 2-0 derby success at Espanyol.

Philip Cocu and Xavi got the goals for Barca in the last five minutes of the first half and the Catalans managed to hold on to give new coach Radomir Antic first victory and lift the side back into the top half of the table.

Victories for Valencia and Deportivo Coruna will keep the heat on Real Sociedad and second-placed Real Madrid.

Sociedad will need to win at Real Betis to be certain of staying top for another week. Real Madrid are on 42 points, and could move back into pole position if they beat Osasuna and Sociedad fail to overcome Betis.

Still clear at top

In Serie A, Inter Milan suffered a 1-2 defeat at Chievo on Saturday after conceding two penalties and being reduced to 10 men. Meanwhile, Roma’were held to a goalless draw at home to Brescia. Brescia striker Luca Toni went close with a shot just wide in the 61st minute after being put through by Roberto Baggio.

A Mateja Kezman hattrick helped PSV Eindhoven romp to a 6-0 win over Zwolle to maintain their four-point lead at the top over Ajax on Saturday.

The Amsterdam team struggled to beat Groningen 2-1 at home to stay in touch, while third-placed Feyenoord trounced AZ Alkmaar 4-1 away but remain 11 points adrift of the leaders.

Guus Hiddink’s PSV raced into a four goal lead in Eindhoven, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Mateja Kezman twice and Mark van Bommel scoring in the first 12 minutes. Ajax had a tough warm-up for Tuesday’s Champions League match away to English Premier League champions Arsenal.

Andy van der Meyde opened the scoring seven minutes before the break and Zlatan Ibrahimovic doubled the lead just before the hour mark. Melchior Schoernmakers pulled a goal back for Groningen but they could not find an equaliser and stay third from bottom, just a point above Graafschap and Zwolle. In Germany, Bayern Munich crushed TSV 1860 Munich 5-0 while Bayer Leverkusen failed to halt their miserable run.

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