Two-goal hero Negredo

MADRID: Sevilla moved up to fourth in the Spanish Liga late on Sunday, with an important 2-1 home win over third-placed Valencia, with two goals from Spain striker Alvaro Negredo.

The burly forward opened the scoring in the 21st minute from close range, after a Diego Perotti corner had been flicked on by Julien Escude. Negredo made it 2-0 in the 69th minute with a handsome chip, after being set up by fellow international Jesus Navas.

Navas and Negredo are both keen to earn their places in Spain’s World Cup squad, and Sunday’s performances will do their chances no harm at all. Defender David Navarro pulled a late goal back for Valencia after the Sevilla defence had failed to clear a corner, but Sevilla had few problems in holding on to the three points.

Sevilla now have 36 points from 20 games, three points fewer than Valencia. Valencia are eight points behind second-placed Real Madrid, who won 3-1 away to Deportivo Coruna on Saturday — their first win in Riazor since 1991.

In their turn, Real are five points behind leaders Barcelona, who won 1-0 away to Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Sevilla are now two points ahead of Mallorca and Deportivo, who share fifth place.

Earlier on Sunday, Mallorca had surprisingly crashed 2-1 away to bottom team Xerez, for whom Carlos Carlvo was the hero.Pierre Webo had given Mallorca the lead in the 24th minute, and it seemed that bottom team Xerez were destined for yet another defeat.

However, Calvo made it 1-1 seven minutes into the second half, then gave Xerez their second win of the season with just 11 minutes left.

Xerez — in their first ever season in the top flight — are still six points adrift at the bottom. Malaga moved above the relegation zone with a timely 2-0 win away to Atletico Madrid, who let down their long-suffering fans yet again.

Portuguese international Duda opened the scoring for Malaga after just three minutes, Javi Lopez made it 2-0 with 20 minutes left. Atletico never looked capable of turning the match around, and the jeers started once more in the Estadio Calderon.

The impressive win takes Malaga up to sixth from bottom, just two places below Atletico. Zaragoza, meanwhile, came from behind to beat Tenerife 3-1 away, thanks to late goals from Adrian Colunga, Angel Lafita and Humberto Suazo.

In Sunday’s other early games, Valladolid were held 1-1 by Almeria and Racing Santander battled out a 0-0 draw in Getafe. Villarreal, for their part, crashed 2-0 at home to lively Osasuna, on a brace from winger Juanfran. Straight afterwards Villarreal sacked coach Ernesto Valverde, the fifth Liga boss to be axed this season.

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