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Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2017

Alaves boosted their chances of a top-half La Liga finish on Monday after they closed the curtain on Week 32 with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal at the Estadio Mendizorrotza.

Ibai Gomez and Rodrigo Ely scored twice in 10 minutes to put the hosts two goals ahead at the interval, and Cedric Bakambu’s 70th-minute chip home proved to be nothing more than a consolation for Villarreal.

Leaders Real Madrid preserved a three-point cushion over Barcelona after Isco struck late to clinch a 3-2 win at Sporting Gijon on Saturday, while the Blaugrana edged Real Sociedad at home by the same margin.

Atletico Madrid also added some spice to the Week 32 slate thanks to their 3-0 hammering of Osasuna at the Vicente Calderon before they prepare for a UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg at Leicester City on Tuesday.

Read on for a recap of Monday’s sole La Liga result and how it’s affected the Spanish top-flight standings as Week 32 came to a close.

2016-17 La Liga Standings
1 Real Madrid 31 23 6 2 82 33 +49 75
2 Barcelona 32 22 6 4 91 30 +61 72
3 Atletico Madrid 32 19 8 5 59 24 +35 65
4 Sevilla 32 18 8 6 56 39 +17 62
5 Villarreal 32 15 9 8 46 26 +20 54
6 Athletic Club 32 16 5 11 45 37 +8 53
7 Real Sociedad 32 16 4 12 48 45 +3 52
8 Eibar 32 14 8 10 52 44 +8 50
9 Espanyol 32 13 10 9 44 42 +2 49
10 Celta Vigo 31 13 5 13 48 51 -3 44
11 Alaves 32 11 10 11 31 39 -8 43
12 Valencia 32 11 7 14 47 54 -7 40
13 Las Palmas 32 10 8 14 51 57 -6 38
14 Real Betis 32 9 7 16 35 51 -16 34
15 Malaga 32 8 9 15 36 49 -13 33
16 Deportivo La Coruna 32 7 10 15 35 50 -15 31
17 Leganes 32 6 9 17 26 49 -23 27
18 Sporting Gijon 32 5 7 20 34 64 -30 22
19 Granada 32 4 8 20 27 68 -41 20
20 Osasuna 32 3 8 21 32 73 -41 17
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Recap

Alaves came into Monday’s meeting desperate for victory after losing their previous three league outings, and manager Mauricio Pellegrino got just the response he was seeking from his side .

And after 35 goalless minutes at 

The home outfit’s evening quickly went into overdrive, too, when central defender Ely got the better of his marker on the stroke of half-time to double the hosts’ advantage with a well-timed header:


Again, the Yellow Submarine’s defence didn’t look its usual self as it conceded a second, although Yahoo’s Andrew Gaffney was quick to note fitness woes had their impact on manager Fran Escriba’s options:


Villarreal threw Manu Trigueros and Santos Borre on after the restart as they sought to reduce Alaves’ lead, but it wasn’t until 20 minutes from time that Bakambu finally got the guests on the board.

His shot from a tight angle squeezed its way over Fernandez and in, although La Liga highlighted it as a season first for the Congolese striker:


That was as far as the comeback attempt went, however, as Escriba’s men were condemned to a second defeat in three away matches, keeping them fifth in the standings for the time being.

Alaves, meanwhile, moved above Valencia into 11th place following their first win in a month, with the club now just seven points off eighth-placed Eibar.



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