(Reuters) – Valencia stayed in the hunt for the final Champions League qualifying spot in La Liga with a rampant 3-1 win in a city derby at home to Levante on Sunday.
Scarred by defeat by struggling Rayo Vallecano last weekend yet buoyed by victory in their Europa League quarter-final first leg over Villarreal, Marcelino’s side got off to a flying start with a headed goal from Santi Mina in the second minute.
They lost defender Cristiano Piccini to a serious injury later in the first half and Levante equalised against the run of play in the 56th minute when Valencia’s Carlos Soler clumsily diverted a corner into his own net.
Valencia’s record signing Goncalo Guedes immediately restored the home side’s lead down the other end by lashing into the far corner, while Mina scored a tap-in six minutes later to seal the three points.
Valencia are sixth in the standings after 32 games on 49 points, two behind fifth-placed Getafe who drew 2-2 at Valladolid and three back from Sevilla, who occupy fourth spot after beating Real Betis 3-2 on Saturday.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)