MADRID (AP) — Real Sociedad's hopes of returning to the Champions League next season took a hit on Monday after it fell 3-2 at home to bottom-of-the-table Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league.
Sociedad slipped eight points behind fourth-place Athletic Bilbao, which holds the final qualifying place for Europe's top-tier event. Rayo, meanwhile, is only one point from salvation after Ruben Rochina smashed a rising shot while on the run into goal for the 67th-minute winner.
Sociedad twice took the lead, in the opening instances through Inigo Martinez and then Ruben Pardo after the restart, but on both occasions the visitors equalized within minutes through Joaquin Larrivey and Alberto Bueno, respectively.
Despite Real's constant pressing over the final 15 minutes, the Basque club couldn't string together a decent effort on goal as Carlos Vela was guilty of wasting a clear opportunity at the close. "This game has given us life, it could be a fundamental result," Rayo coach Paco Jemez said.
Rayo has 26 points alongside fellow relegation battlers Almeria and Valladolid, while Getafe is just one point better. Elsewhere, 10-man Malaga also enhanced its hopes of surviving the drop after securing a 2-0 win away to Osasuna, which is now just three points clear of relegation.
Samuel Sanchez gave the visitors the lead a quarter of the way in before the visitors were reduced by a player when Jesus Gamez was shown a second yellow card in the 52nd. No matter, as Nordin Amrabat doubled the Andalucians lead in the 66th, Malaga also hung on thanks to stellar goalkeeping by Willy Caballero.
Malaga joined Elche and Osasuna on 29 points with the victory. Real Madrid leads the standings with 67 points, three better than Atletico Madrid. Barcelona is third with 63 points, while Athletic has 51.
Getafe fired coach Luis Garcia on Monday, with former player Cosmin Contra taking over the duties.