Elche edges Almeria, Betis beats Espanyol


MADRID (AP) -- Cristian Herrera's second-half goal gave Elche a 1-0 victory against Almeria on Sunday and lifted the club above its relegation adversary in the Spanish league.

Ruben Castro scored two goals as last-placed Real Betis beat Espanyol 2-0 to end a four-game losing streak.

Elche improved to 24 points, two more than Almeria which is 17th. Valladolid is 18th with 20, Rayo Vallecano has 17 and Betis 14.

Herrera was well placed to redirect Javi Marquez's shot for the 58th-minute winner at the Manuel Martinez Valero Stadium. So far this season Almeria has conceded a league-high 27 goals in the second half.

Elche finished with 10 men after Damian Suarez was shown a second yellow card in the 90th.

Castro was also in the right place for Betis in the 72nd to fire home Lolo Reyes' initial shot after it came off the post straight to him.

Espanyol forward Christian Stuani wasted a chance in the 82nd and Castro put the game away before stoppage time, firing a quick shot between defenders and past goalkeeper Francisco Casilla at the near post.

Later, Atletico Madrid can take sole possession of first place with a victory against Real Sociedad, while Real Madrid can also pass Barcelona in the standings at Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona's surprise 3-2 loss to Valencia on Saturday means the defending champion remains on 54 points, the same as Atletico and one better than Madrid.

All games held a minute's silence in honor of former Spain coach Luis Aragones, who died on Saturday at age 75.