Sevilla jump above Villarreal into third place

Sevilla jumped above Villarreal into third place in the Spanish Liga on Sunday with a somewhat fortunate 1-0 defeat of the "Yellow Submarine", dpa reported.

Sevilla were the beneficiaries of two crucial refereeing decisions. Just before half-time, Renato scored the only goal despite being offside when set up by Frederic Kanoute and Adriano.

And in the 54th minute Villarreal striker Joseba Llorente was harshly shown a second yellow card, leaving his team with 10 men.

Sevilla should have scored more goals in the second half, but were foiled by lively Villarreal keeper Diego Lopez.

"It was a hard game for us," said Sevilla midfielder Aldo Duscher. "But we showed our quality and our strengths tonight, scoring an important win."

Sevilla are now third, level with second-placed Valencia with 30 points from 15 games.

On Saturday Valencia came from behind to beat Espanyol 2-1. They have a better goal difference than Sevilla.

Valencia and Sevilla are both eight points behind runaway leaders Barcelona, who scored a late 2-0 win over historic rivals Real Madrid on Saturday.

Their defeat in Seville pulls Villarreal - who have endured a bad week - down to fourth, on 29 points.

Real are now fifth, on 26. In sixth place, on 24, are Atletico Madrid, who take on Betis in Sunday's late game.

Sunday's early games had a strong significance for the bottom half of the table.

A late 1-0 defeat away to fellow strugglers Recreativo Huelva leaves hapless Osasuna four points adrift at the bottom.

The Pamplona side have won just one match since former Spain manager Jose Antonio Camacho took charge in October, and they now have just nine points from 15 games, three points less than second-from-bottom Huelva.

"We should really not have lost this evening," said Osasuna midfielder Hector Font, who twice came close towards the end.

"Our plan was to get off the bottom by winning here in Huelva," he revealed.

Instead, Osasuna squandered their chances and lost to a late goal from Adrian Colunga.

With just seven minutes left, he was set up down the left by Javi Guerrero,and the youngster broke the deadlock with a powerful left- foot drive.

The late win leaves Huelva level on 13 points with Mallorca - who crashed 4-1 away to Getafe - and Espanyol.

Fifth from bottom, on 14 points, are Numancia, who crashed 2-0 away to Malaga. Then come Almeria and Athletic Bilbao, both on 16 points.

Almeria battled out a late 1-1 draw at home to Racing Santander, Bilbao thrashed Sporting Gijon 3-0.

Sunday's other early game was a 3-0 cruise for Valladolid at home to Deportivo Coruna, with handsome goals from Jonathan Sesma, Pedro Lopez and Pedro Leon.

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