Valencia draws 1-1 with rival Levante
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Valencia squandered another lead to draw 1-1 with Levante on Sunday, endangering its hold on third place in the Spanish league.
For the sixth time in its past eight games, Valencia failed to secure a win after scoring first and dropped valuable points at home.
"I'm not afraid of losing our Champions League spot, but I do have the obligation to change this dynamic and find solutions,'' said Valencia coach Unai Emery, who has been under growing criticism for his team's erratic form.
Also, Radamel Falcao scored his 20th league goal of the season as Atletico Madrid cruised past Getafe 3-0.
Levante was the more dangerous side early on at Mestalla stadium, but its crosstown rival Valencia went ahead 10 minutes before halftime with a move started by Aritz Aduriz, playing instead of the suspended Roberto Soldado.
The Basque striker threaded a superb short pass through a trio of defenders and Sofiane Feghouli laid the ball off for Jonas to tap into the empty net.
Former PSV striker Arouna Kone equalized for Levante through a counterattack in the 54th.
After recovering the ball in midfield, Jose Barkero lofted a long ball into the area that Valdo Lopes headed down for Kone to fire in and take his league goal tally to 11 this season.
The draw left Valencia one point ahead of fourth-place Malaga and three points in front of fifth-place Levante with eight matches to play. Spain's top four finishers qualify for the Champions League, while the fifth- and sixth-place teams join the Europa League.
"Of course we dream of playing in Europe,'' said Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez, whose team appears determined to prove that its surprise run to the top of table to begin the season was no fluke.
"We already have 45 points, which were enough to avoid the drop last season. Our situation is privileged. We hope we can make a sprint to the final.''
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad thrashed Rayo Vallecano 4-0 in San Sebastian to end a three-game losing run, while Villarreal remained undefeated in three matches under new coach Miguel Angel Lotina following a 0-0 home draw with Espanyol.
Atletico got going in the 24th as Eduardo Salvio continued his impressive play with the Argentine forward heading Filipe Luis' cross high over goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya to land under the far corner.
"Little by little we were settling into the match when the first goal arrived,'' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "It was a special header in an important moment when the game was tight.''
Brazilian playmaker Diego headed Falcao's cross off the crossbar and volleyed home the rebound to make it 2-0 in the 62nd. Falcao guided home Juanfran Torres' cross in the 77th minute to cap an easy victory at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
Atletico climbed within five points of Malaga. Getafe is three points behind its Spanish capital neighbor.
On Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to power Real Madrid's 5-1 rout of Osasuna, while Barcelona stayed within six points of the league leaders with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Also, Zaragoza escaped last place with a 2-1 win over now bottom Sporting Gijon, Granada left Racing Santander in the penultimate position with a 1-0 away win, and Real Betis beat Malaga 2-1 to end its six-game unbeaten run.
Sevilla looks for its third consecutive victory at Mallorca on Monday.
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