Sevilla boosted their European hopes with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over ten-man Sporting Gijon on Tuesday to move level on points with sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao.
Brazilian international forward Luis Fabiano opened the scoring from the penalty spot for his ninth league goal of the season with Diego Perotti and Alvaro Negredo also on target in a convincing home win. It was Sevilla's fourth game in nine hectic days but the hosts were aided by the first-half dismissal of Gijon midfielder Sebastian Eguren.
Eguren fouled Fabiano to concede a penalty on 28 minutes and Sporting had to stomach a double punishment as the Uruguayan was given a red card. Fabiano made no mistake thumping a low penalty into the bottom left hand corner.
Minutes later Federico Fazio hit the crossbar with a downward header before Argentine Perotti made it 2-0 with a fine first time volley. Negredo scored a third in the second half as Sevilla climbed to seventh while Sporting hover one point above the relegation zone.
Earlier on Tuesday Real Mallorca recorded their first away win at Espanyol in over a decade with a 2-1 comeback win at the Cornella-El Prat thanks to second half goals from Pierre Webo and Emilio Nsue.
Fifth-placed Espanyol had taken an 18th minute lead through Alvaro Vazquez but Cameroon forward Webo headed an equaliser on 62 minutes and Nsue netted the winner eight minutes from time as the islanders won at Espanyol for the first time since 2000. "After the break our goalkeeper practically didn't touch the ball and I think it was a deserved win," said Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup.
It was a major setback for Espanyol's European hopes and Athletic Bilbao, two points behind in sixth, can move above them with a win at Real Zaragoza on Wednesday. For Mallorca it was only their third away win of the season as they move four points off the top six.
With just seven minutes gone Mallorca won a penalty with centre-back Jordi Amat clipping Webo in the box. Chori Castro stepped up but goalkeeper Carlos Kameni guessed the right way and got down low to palm away the spot-kick.
A minute later Espanyol went down the other end and Jose Callejon crashed a shot against the post. The hosts got the breakthrough on 18 minutes with Mallorca getting their offside trap horribly wrong as Vazquez bent his run before keeping a cool head to slot home. Mallorca thought they had equalised on the half hour mark but Webo's header was harshly ruled out for offside.
Livewire Webo got the goal his performance deserved with a header to level the scores just after the hour mark. Winger Nsue then popped up with a late 82nd minute winner as Mallorca took the spoils.
Barcelona have a tough trip to third-placed Valencia today as they bid to stretch their seven-point lead over Real Madrid. It will be a special game for Barcelona striker David Villa who returns to Valencia for the first time since his €40 million move in the summer.
Real Madrid host lowly Malaga on Thursday looking to bounce back from their disappointing 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna with a 13th win at the Santiago Bernabeu. Malaga, second from bottom of the table, are coached by former Real boss Manuel Pellegrini who managed the club last season but a club record 96 points saw them finish runners-up to Barcelona and the Chilean was axed.