Spanish international striker Alvaro Negredo had a night to forget scoring an own goal and being sent off for violent conduct as nine-man Sevilla crashed to a 2-1 defeat at lowly Real Zaragoza on Sunday to slip out of the top four.
Negredo, a club record summer signing at €15 million, headed into his own net for what proved Zaragoza's winning goal on 40 minutes and got a straight red on 81 minutes for kicking out at Matteo Contini. It was a seventh league defeat of the season for Sevilla who slip to fifth with Real Mallorca a point ahead in fourth after an impressive 10th consecutive home win as they beat Villarreal 1-0 at the Ono Stadium on Sunday.
The latest Sevilla defeat will crank up the pressure on coach Manolo Jimenez who set a top three finish and title challenge as the pre-season target. Sevilla must pick themselves up for Wednesday's Kings Cup semi-final second leg at Getafe and they begin as favourites holding a comfortable 2-0 lead from the first leg.
"It was a game to forget in every aspect from beginning to end," fumed Jimenez. "If we want to be in three competitions (the league, Champions League and cup) we have to be competitive in all of them and not have other games at the back of our minds." Zaragoza move out of the bottom three after recording a second consecutive league win for the first time this season with Valladolid slipping into the relegation zone.
Mallorca's Portuguese centre-back Jose Nunes netted on 81 minutes to maintain Mallorca's flawless home record as new Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido tasted a 1-0 defeat in his first match in charge. Mallorca move into the UEFA Champions League spots and have a perfect 30 points at home conceding just three goals in the process.
"This was a test against a team that we have struggled against historically," said Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano. "This was a big win for our aspirations to be high up in the table."
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander shared the spoils in a heated 1-1 draw and prepare to meet for the third time in a week on Thursday in the second leg of the Kings Cup semi-final. Racing trail 4-0 from the first leg and hoped to avenge the cup loss in the league but Atletico took a 24th minute lead through Diego Forlan before Atletico old boy Gonzalo Colsa equalised for Racing 12 minutes later.
Atletico stay down in 12th a point behind Racing but still have a chance to rescue their season in the Kings Cup although Forlan warned against complacency despite the 4-0 first leg lead. "We know we are 90 minutes away from the final," said Forlan. "We got a good result (in the first leg) but we have to stay calm and try to get through."
In other matches, Deportivo La Coruna fell two points behind Mallorca in sixth after a 0-0 draw at Malaga on Sunday. Athletic Bilbao closed to within two points of Depor with a 3-2 comeback win over Xerez on Sunday thanks to a brace from Spanish international Fernando Llorente. Xerez prop up the table, as they have done for virtually the whole season, and are seven points from safety.
At the top unbeaten Barcelona lead Real Madrid by five points after a gritty 2-1 home win over Getafe on Saturday despite playing with ten men for over an hour. Real beat Espanyol 3-0 to record their 11th consecutive home victory on Saturday courtesy of goals from Sergio Ramos, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain.