- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

ALMERIA, Spain (AP) - Almeria’s stoppage time winner secured a wild 4-3 victory over Real Sociedad to dampen its hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Hicham Khaloua’s late goal improved Almeria’s chances of avoiding relegation in a match dominated by contentious calls, including three penalties.

One day after Barcelona’s 4-3 win at Real Madrid featured three penalties, referees again dominated a wide-open game that saw Almeria ultimately move out of the relegation zone and one point ahead of Getafe which took its place.

Angel Trujillo handled inside the area to set up Carlos Vela’s penalty that was subsequently canceled out by Oscar Diaz before Real went ahead again in the 58th-minute through Imanol Agirretxe’s sublime lob over goalkeeper Esteban Suarez.


Jose Antonio Garcia converted a pair of disputed penalties inside five minutes after Sociedad defenders Carlos Martinez and Mikel Gonzalez were perhaps harshly booked for separate fouls that led to Almeria getting ahead again after 71 minutes.

Markel Bergara headed home an equalizer in the 85th for Sociedad, which slipped nine points behind fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league when fullback Alberto De la Bella’s clearance came straight off Khaloua into goal.

“We’re not eyeing fourth-place as our objective,” Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate said. “If you score three goals away from home you should win, but we weren’t strong enough when we had to be and we defended poorly, especially on the last goal.”

After 29 rounds, Atletico Madrid leads with 70 points - the same as Real Madrid, but it holds the head-to-head advantage over its crosstown rival. Barcelona trails the pair by one point.

The 30th round of the league kicks off on Tuesday with Malaga playing Espanyol and Bilbao at Elche.

Fourth-placed Athletic, which holds the final Champions League qualifying place, is eight points better than Sevilla, which is one point ahead of Sociedad.