Villarreal hires Lotina as 3rd coach of season

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VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) -- Villarreal hired Miguel Angel Lotina as its third coach this season in a bid to avoid relegation in the Spanish league.

Villarreal is three points above the drop zone, although 18th-place Racing Santander can draw level with a victory over Espanyol later Monday.

Villarreal fired Jose Molina following Sunday's 1-0 loss at Levante, just 11 games after he replaced Juan Carlos Garrido.

"It's not a very comfortable situation but the team is very motivated and I'm very happy to be here," Lotina said on Monday. "The challenge is enticing."

Lotina, who will take charge for the rest of the season, led Espanyol to a 2006 Copa del Rey triumph and managed Deportivo La Coruna until last season, when the Galician club was relegated to the second division.

His first match will be Wednesday when Spanish leader Real Madrid visits the Madrigal Stadium.

"It would have been nice to have had a full week of training, but this is the situation we find ourselves in," Lotina said. "Real Madrid will be a good test for us."

Villarreal has endured a miserable season in which it lost all six of its Champions League group games and failed to win a single Copa del Rey match, exiting the domestic cup competition after its first series.

"It was necessary to make a change to a coach with a wealth of experience," Villarreal president Fernando Roig said.

Lotina's hiring is the 10th managerial change in the Spanish league this season.