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Sociedad, Villarreal win to stay in hunt

BARCELONA -- Real Sociedad beat Valladolid 1-0 while Villarreal held on for a 1-0 win at Getafe in the Spanish league, both victors staying in the hunt on Thursday for a place in European competition next season.

Sociedad remained in sixth place with Villarreal a point behind in seventh, both in Europa League spots and in striking distance of fourth place and the final Champions League berth.

Sociedad forward Carlos Vela chipped goalkeeper Jaime Jimenez after receiving an equally exquisite lobbed pass from Ruben Pardo to set him up in the 23rd minute at Anoeta Stadium. It was Vela's 12th goal in league play this campaign.

“The truth is we didn't play a good game, but we won,” said Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate, whose team struggled to control possession in the second half and needed goalie Claudio Bravo to secure the three points by denying Carlos Pena in the 57th.

“We have players capable of doing things like that great goal, and that makes everything easier,” Arrasate said.

Jeremy Perbet slotted in Villarreal's winner in the fifth after he received the ball with his back to the goal and deftly turned to shoot around his marker. Villarreal squandered several more chances before Getafe made a late push but failed to get the equalizer.

Their defeats left Getafe and Valladolid in the relegation zone.

Also, last-place Real Betis won 3-1 at Levante to earn its first away victory in league play after 14 winless visits this season.

The long-awaited away road win left Betis seven points from safety with eight rounds to go.

Almeria overcame Seydou Keita's goal just seven seconds into the match to fight back for a 2-2 draw at home with Valencia.

Valencia and Levante stayed in the middle of the standings, while Almeria inched two points from the drop.

Atletico Madrid leads the league by one point over Barcelona. Real Madrid was in third three points behind the pacesetter.

The league resumes on Saturday.

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