(Reuters) - Villarreal kept alive their hopes of claiming a Europa League qualifying berth after a first-half goal by striker Carlos Bacca gave them a 1-0 home win over struggling Mallorca in La Liga on Tuesday.
The result lifted Villarreal two places to seventh on 44 points from 29 games, two behind sixth-placed Atletico Madrid who have a game in hand. Mallorca stayed 18th on 25 points as the defeat dented their hopes of avoiding relegation.
A darting run and cross from Samuel Chukwueze left Bacca with a simple tap-in from two metres at the far post in the 16th minute, after Mallorca’s Idrissu Baba had rattled the crossbar with a thunderbolt from 30 metres at the other end.
The lively Chukwueze fired wide after a solo run shortly after the break and visiting goalkeeper Manolo Reina saved a Manuel Trigueros shot before Mallorca missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise.
Substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski’s fine footwork and cross left Juan Hernandez unmarked at the far post but the forward sliced his shot wide from six metres with the goal at his mercy.
Home keeper Sergio Asenjo kept out a fierce Ante Budimir shot and Villarreal cleared the ball off the line in the closing stages as Mallorca piled on the pressure but were unable to find a way through.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris