Sevilla's Renato plays hero again

Brazilian Renato was the hero again as Sevilla followed up their Real Madrid scalp with a 1-0 home win over title rivals Villarreal on Sunday to go third in the table. Renato had scored an 84th-minute winner as Sevilla overcame Real, 4-3, last weekend and struck on the chime of half-time to secure a valuable three points and they move level on points with Valencia, eight behind leaders Barcelona. Villarreal slipped to fourth and trail Barcelona, who defeated Real Madrid, 2-0, on Saturday, by nine points.

Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez stuck by the same system that defeated Real with Ivica Dragutinovic the only personnel change replacing Fernando Navarro at full back. Luis Fabiano and Diego Capel, two of their biggest stars, started on the substitutes bench to their dismay. Both sides had conceded three goals in their last matches against Real and Getafe respectively, so goals were expected, but it was scoreless with half-time close. "If my facts aren't wrong Villarreal only had one shot on our goal and that says a lot about my players," Jimenez said.

The referee was close to blowing up only for Renato to score with Frederic Kanoute's miscontrol of a high ball inadvertently setting up the Samba striker.  Kanoute should have made it 2-0 at the beginning of the second half but sliced over after Adriano had cut the ball back. Substitute Fabiano and Adriano spurned great chances and it was incredible that a dominant Sevilla failed to get a second. "Sevilla's goal was offside," Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "The mistake opened the game up for Sevilla and they started to play better. It was always difficult with one man less."

Also on Sunday, Real Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano continues to feel the strain after his struggling team crashed to a 4-1 defeat at Getafe. Mallorca, who finished seventh last season, have taken only one point from their last 15 and the latest defeat saw them drop into the bottom three. A Cosmin Contra penalty and a strike from Ikechuwku Uche put Getafe two goals up inside the first half an hour and Mallorca never recovered. Manzano almost guided Mallorca into the UEFA Cup last season but the islanders sold stars Daniel Guiza and Ariel Ibagaza in the summer and it has taken its toll.

The journeyman coach was furious at the opening penalty claiming Uche had deceived the referee. "Uche did well like every other striker that steps in the penalty area," Manzano said. "The result was excessive and I just hope that the dubious penalties start coming our way."

Recreativo Huelva, second from bottom, moved level on 13 points with Mallorca after defeating Osasuna 1-0 in a relegation six-pointer. Adrian Colunga scored in the 83rd minute to down Osasuna who are four points adrift at the bottom. Athletic Bilbao recorded a vital win to move three points clear of the relegation zone with a 3-0 drubbing of Sporting Gijon.

Later on Sunday, Atletico Madrid can go above champions and city rivals Real Madrid with a home victory over Real Betis in the late game.