BARCELONA, Spain (AP)Sevilla stayed in the thick of the Spanish league title race after going third with a 1-0 win at Valladolid on Sunday.
Sevilla moved ahead of Atletico Madrid and remained one point behind leader Barcelona and Real Madrid, which is in second place on goal difference.
Julen Lopetegui’s team went ahead from a 13th-minute penalty converted by midfielder Ever Banega and then clamped down to avoid giving Valladolid any hope of a comeback.
”There is a long way to go and I think my team has a big margin for improvement,” said Lopetegui, who is enjoying a strong comeback with Sevilla after being fired from both the Spanish national side and Real Madrid.
”We are competing well and are happy we got the three points.”
Banega took the penalty after Manuel ”Nolito” Agudo was fouled while trying to shoot just inside the area.
Banega’s initial effort was saved by Jordi Masip, but on video review the referee ruled that the goalkeeper had moved off his line before Banega had made contact with the ball. On the retake Banega fired into the top corner beyond the reach of Masip.
A defense led by Diego Carlos did the rest as the hosts failed to generate a serious scoring chance. Valladolid’s frustration led to several hard tackles in the bad-tempered game with repeated interruptions of play.
Sevilla forward Lucas Ocampos, who is one of the most impressive newcomers to the league this season, was sent off in stoppage time after picking up a second yellow card for protesting a foul.
Sevilla is unbeaten in six rounds.
Valladolid, which is owned by Brazil great Ronaldo, was left in 14th place after its first home defeat.
OSASUNA STREAK ENDS
Athletic Bilbao won 2-1 to end Osasuna’s club record streak of 31 home games without a loss.
Striker Inaki Williams struck first for Bilbao in the 21st minute by finishing off a well-orchestrated counterattack. Chimy Avila leveled in the 76th, only for former Osasuna player Kenan Kodro to restore the visitors’ advantage three minutes later.
Bilbao’s first away win of the season lifted it into fifth place – five points off Barcelona.
Osasuna hadn’t lost at its El Sadar Stadium in Pamplona since a second-tier defeat to Tenerife on April 1, 2018. From that loss it went unbeaten in 24 second-division games and seven home games this season.
Espanyol earned its first home point this season after China forward Wu Lei scored to salvage a 1-1 draw with Getafe.
The struggling Barcelona-based club had lost its first six matches at its stadium this campaign.
”The point lets us see that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said coach Pablo Machin.
Iago Aspas scored two late goals to help Celta Vigo end a five-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory at Villarreal.
Substitute Joselu Mato netted twice in the final six minutes to lead Alaves to a 2-0 win over Eibar.
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