Athletic surge up to sixth with Sevilla win
Athletic Bilbao continued to soar up the table with a comprehensive 2-1 victory away to Sevilla on Sunday which put them in sixth place.
Marcelo Bielsa's side have now gone eleven matches unbeaten following a slow start to the campaign under the Chilean coach which took them six attempts to register their first win in La Liga.
Since then they have not looked back and fully deserved the three points against a Sevilla side which have not won in five games and are just a point above Athletic.
Andoni Iraola gave Athletic the lead after just five minutes and while Sevilla hit back through Jesus Navas after a headed knock down from Frederic Kanoute, the visitors were in charge.
In particular Sevilla were finding it difficult to cope with Athletic?s physical threat although the winner came from a move with the ball on the ground as Iker Muniain found Oscar De Marcos who scored from close range.
Earlier Sporting Gijon came from behind to beat Getafe thanks to a late Nacho Novo winner. Oscar Trejo equalised a Nicolas Miku goal in first half stoppage time and then a minute from the end Novo headed in a second.
Osasuna drew 0-0 with Rayo Vallecano while it was also goalless between Real Sociedad and Espanyol, who moved onto the fringes of the European places with 17 points.
On Saturday night Real Madrid kept their three point cushion at the top of the table, but they had to fight to the end for a 3-2 win over Valencia in a stormy encounter at the Mestalla.
The pressure was on Real who had Barcelona breathing down their necks after their earlier 4-0 win over Zaragoza but they produced a battling display against a Valencia side who pushed them all the way after the break.
Real have a higher intensity to their play this season and deserved their lead through Karim Benzema after 19 minutes but Valencia responded after the break and the game threatened to boil over as tackles rained in and tempers frayed.
Sergio Ramos headed Real further ahead midway through the second half before Roberto Soldado hit the first of a double.
A mistake from Valencia keeper Alves who recklessly came off his line allowed Ronaldo to score from a tight angle, but another Soldado goal set up a grandstand finish.
"We knew it was going to be tough and in the second half neither side had control of the game. All I can say is that they were three very important points," said Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka.
"There are different ways to win matches and all are good. It can be through playing brilliant football or through suffering which was the case here."
A stylish Barcelona produced a rendition of attacking football at the Nou Camp against a Zaragoza side who have only won two games all season.
Barca were finding it difficult to find a cutting edge though until they managed it in a way not associated with Barca?s passing football, as Gerard Pique headed home a Xavi Hernandez free-kick.
Lionel Messi slotted in a second clinically before half time and then after the restart Carles Puyol and David Villa completed the scoring.
Later Sunday Levante travel to Atletico Madrid whose coach Gregorio Manzano is on the ropes with the side down in 12th place.
Levante remain in the Champions League qualification places following their surprise start but two straight defeats has taken the wind out of their sails.
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