Villarreal's Argentine playmaker Juan Roman scored a magnificent goal to set the seal on a come-from-behind 3-1 win Saturday at Real Sociedad to move his club into third place in La Liga.
Sociedad had got off to a flier with Turkish forward Nihat Kahveci firing it into a fourth-minute lead, but thereafter there was only one side in it - the visitor from the northeast.
Having scored a midweek winner over Lille to take Villarreal through to the last 16 of the Champions League at the first attempt Antonio Guayre was again on target from close range on 35 minutes after Riquelme, over his recent hamstring nightmare, crossed from the left.
Nine minutes after the break Guayre repeated the dose from inside the six-yard box before Riquelme nonchalantly floated home a beauty from outside the penalty area with 18 minutes left to give Villarreal 26 points from 15 games, five less than leader Barcelona, which was to host Seville yesterday.
That was enough to take Villarreal's "Yellow Submarine" outfit into third spot ahead of Valencia on goal difference and leave Sociedad in midtable obscurity.
Earlier, Valencia had to settle for a 1-1 home draw with struggling Athletic Bilbao, whose coach Javier Clemente saluted a never-say-die showing as his charges exited the bottom three.
Bilbao, one of Spain's oldest clubs, have in recent weeks been pulling itself up after a disastrous start which threatened its ever-present first division membership.
Joseba Etxebarria's header almost secured a second straight win on its travels and only a Vicente strike 16 minutes from the end saved Valencia's blushes.
"We closed Valencia down well for the most part and they are normally a very fluid proposition," said former Spanish national coach Clemente, who took the
Basques to the last of its eight league titles 21 years ago.
n Fiorentina goes 2nd
Stefano Fiore scored a second-half goal Saturday to lead Fiorentina to a 1-0 Serie A win over last-place Treviso.
The Florentine side moved up to second place in the standings with 32 points, seven fewer than leader Juventus, which was to host underdog Cagliari yesterday.
Fiorentina initially struggled in high winds at its Artemio Franchi stadium, and missed the chance for a 32nd-minute lead when Luca Toni had a penalty kick saved.
Toni, the league's top scorer with 16 goals, got his chance when the referee spotted a foul in a melee. The striker, who's expected to lead Italy's attack at next year's World Cup, kicked slowly and goalkeeper Adriano Zancope made a diving save.
Fiore was unmarked when he headed in the decisive goal in the 51st from a cross from Gianpaolo Pazzini.
Treviso's Dino Fava squandered a chance to equalize in the closing minutes when he kicked wide from inside the area.
Treviso was left with eight points and bottom of the 20-team table.
Also Saturday, Erjon Bogdani scored after two minutes to help Siena to a 1-0 home win over Tuscan rival Empoli. The Albanian striker got his third goal of this season with a two-meter shot from a low cross.