Villarreal climb as Barça crash

<-- Villarreal have gone second in the Spanish top flight

Villarreal CF put themselves firmly in title contention by taking advantage of FC Barcelona's defeat at Real Betis Balompié to move above the Catalans into second place in the Primera División.

Villarreal's night
After Barcelona surrendered a two-goal half-time lead to lose 3-2 against Betis in Seville, Villarreal fulfilled their part of the bargain by beating Club Atlético de Madrid 3-0 at El Madrigal.

Betis fightback
Frank Rijkaard's Blaugrana looked to be keeping a tight grip on the coat-tails of leaders Real Madrid CF when Bojan Krkić and Samuel Eto'o scored within 15 minutes of kick-off. However, mid-table Betis staged a remarkable second-half comeback inspired by Edu. After reducing the deficit soon after the hour, the Brazilian forward first had a penalty saved by Víctor Valdés, then rifled in a superb winner after 78 minutes. Betis had conjured an equally impressive equaliser through Juanito only two minutes before.

Atlético outplayed
That result kept Barcelona four points behind Madrid – and allowed Villarreal to overtake them with victory over fourth-placed Atlético. Manuel Luis Pellegrini's men benefited from uncertain defending by the visitors to establish a 2-0 interval advantage, with Santi Cazorla and Nihat Kahveci scoring after 39 and 43 minutes. When Nihat struck again in the 66th minute, the contest was over. Only three points separate Villarreal from Madrid, who host Sevilla FC on Sunday.