Sunderland appoint Di Canio
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 22:06:00
Atletico Madrid were unable to leapfrog Real Madrid into second spot as they were held by Valencia.
A 1-1 draw in the Vicente Calderon stadium was not enough to move above their city rivals as Valencia produced a spirited display to keep their own Champions League hopes alive.
Jonas surprised the home side inside five minutes but Radamel Falcao promptly beat the offside trap at the other end to stab the ball home and restore parity within a minute.
Despite home pressure after the break, that's how it stayed and the result leaves Atletico a point behind Real with Valencia just a point outside the top four themselves.
Earlier on Sunday, bottom-club Deportivo La Coruna recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season after a narrow win over fellow strugglers Real Mallorca.
Victor Casadesus gave Gregorio Manzano's side the lead but a wonderful goal from Silvio put Deportivo back on level terms before the break.
Veteran defender Carlos Marchena gave the visitors the lead early in the second half and Riki extended the advantage, before Alfaro scored late on to set up a tense finish. But Deportivo held on to keep their hopes of survival alive with the Galician side now just four points from safety.
Osasuna were another side whose hopes of avoiding relegation were handed a huge boost after they came from a goal down to win at Valladolid in fine fashion.
An own goal by Ruben gave the hosts an early lead but two goals by Kike Sola within 10 minutes after half-time put Jose Mendilibar's side ahead. Miguel De Las Cuevas then scored his first goal for the club to make sure of the points and lift Osasuna seven points clear of the drop zone.
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad's hopes of a Champions League place suffered a setback as they were held to a draw at Espanyol. In fact, they left the Cornella-El Prat grateful for a point after Javi Lopez's own-goal inside the final quarter of an hour denied the hosts all three points.
It was the second time Sociedad had come from behind in the match, David Zurutuza scoring either side of strikes from Sergio Garcia and Christian Stuani in an eventful first half.
Sociedad remain in fourth but are now just a point clear of Malaga in fifth as the race for the final Champions League spot heats up.
The Italian, who left Swindon in February, will take charge from Monday morning as the replacement for Martin O'Neill who was sacked on Saturday after the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Chairman Ellis Short said: "Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and raring to get started.
"The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.
"I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.
"Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season.
"They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve.
"That remains our primary aim."
The Sunderland job is only Di Canio's second in management after his spell at Swindon and he was a big success in Wiltshire, guiding the Robins to promotion to League One.
Di Canio, 44, played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan before making a move to Britain where he played for Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.
Within minutes of Di Canio's appointment, David Miliband announced he has resigned from his role as vice-chairman and non-executive director of the club due to Di Canio's "past political statements".
Within seven games of the Premier League season left Sunderland are just one point above the relegation zone.