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Barcelona crush Malaga 4-0
Updated: 2005-04-25 09:22

Ludovic Giuly scored twice Sunday to help leader FC Barcelona to a 4-0 victory over Malaga and leave it three wins away from its first Spanish league title since 1999.

FC Barcelona's Ronaldinho (R) vies with Malaga's Miguel Angel in a match of the Spanish League at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga. Barca won 4-0. [AFP]
Defender Oleguer Presas and substitute Gerard Lopez also netted at Malaga's La Rosaleda stadium as Barcelona restored its six-point advantage over second-place Real Madrid with five games remaining.

After 33 rounds, Barcelona has 75 points, while Real Madrid, which beat Villarreal 2-1 on Saturday, has 69.

"We controlled the match and the play. They only got close in the first 15 minutes and then, by concentrating, we got an important win. I have to congratulate my players," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was quoted as saying by news agency Efe.

In another match, Sevilla regained third place with a 3-1 win at Athletic Bilbao.

Espanyol beat Zaragoza 3-1, Real Sociedad edged host Real Betis 3-2, Valencia downed lowly Albacete 2-0, while Deportivo La Coruna lost 4-1 against visiting Racing Santander.

Elsewhere, it was: Numancia 1, Mallorca 2; and Getafe 1, Levante 0.

On Saturday, Osasuna edged Atletico Madrid 1-0.

Sevilla has 55 points, two more than Espanyol. Villarreal and Valencia are next with 52, although Villarreal has a game in hand. Betis drops to seventh with 51.

Barcelona was boosted by the return of league-leading scorer with 21 goals, Samuel Eto'o, who hadn't played since hurting his right knee on April 10 during Barcelona's 4-2 defeat at Real Madrid.

However, the team's opening goal came through an unlikely source, Oleguer angling his shot home from Deco's corner for his first league goal for the club.

Malaga trounced Barcelona 5-1 last season but Giuly ensured the scoreline wouldn't be repeated this time by doubling the lead with a header from Ronaldinho's free kick in the 34th minute.

The French forward took advantage of Xavi Hernandez's through ball to slot a goal through the legs of Malaga 'keeper Francesc Arnau and extend Barcelona's lead in the 68th.

Malaga was reduced to 10 men seven minutes later when Brazilian substitute Marcio Amoroso was ejected for stamping on Barcelona captain Carles Puyol.

Gerard confirmed Barcelona's superiority by heading the fourth goal from a cross by Giovanni van Bronckhorst just before time.

In Bilbao, Sevilla took a seventh-minute lead through Brazilian forward Julio Baptista's free kick from the edge of the area.

The visitors' second goal arrived 14 minutes later when 19-year-old right winger Jesus Navas made an impressive scoring debut in the league by beating three defenders in an electrifying burst before slamming the ball home.

In the 77th minute, Baptista took his season's tally to 16 goals by diving to head home Navas' cross for Sevilla's third.

Substitute Julen Guerrero scored Bilbao's consolation goal in the 87th.

Espanyol's Raul Tamudo headed home defender David Garcia's cross in the 34th minute, while Maxi Rodriguez burst through Zaragoza's defence to add the second nine minutes later. The goal was the Argentine forward's 13th goal of the season.

Zaragoza forward David Villa reduced the deficit on the hour, only for Tamudo to double his tally from close range just before the final whistle.

Zaragoza had Brazilian defender Alvaro Maior sent off in the 80th on its way to a first defeat in seven games.

Betis suffered a setback to its hopes of a debut place in the Champions League.

Sociedad midfielder Mikel Labaka opened the scoring in the fifth minute, with Betis fighting back through Spain forward Joaquin Sanchez and Ricardo Oliveira early in the second half.

Oliveira's goal was his 18th of the season, taking him level with Villarreal's Diego Forlan in second place in the scoring chart.

Sociedad rallied, with Jose Javier Barkero making it 2-2 in the 67th minute and Gari Uranga heading the winner in the 90th.

Albacete held defending champion Valencia until the ejection of defender Miquel Buades in the 63rd minute. Striker Miguel Angel (Mista) Ferrer scored with a drive seven minutes later and forward Miguel Angel Angulo added Valencia's second in the 76th.

Valencia's win extends its unbeaten run to five games and lifted it to sixth, while Albacete, a near certainty for relegation, is winless in 11 games.

Deportivo La Coruna's European hopes suffered a blow with a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Racing Santander.

Israeli international Yossi Benayoun scored a hat trick and Javi Guerrero scored another goal, all in the second half, after Spain forward Albert Luque had given Deportivo the lead in the 23rd minute.

In a game between the two other teams which are almost certain to be relegated, Mallorca beat last-place Numancia 2-1 on second-half goals by Victor Casadesus and Italian defender Marc Iuliano.

Midfielder Carlos Merino scored for Numancia.

Getafe forward Michel Carrilero scored in the 21st minute to earn his team victory against Levante.

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