Surprise package Levante
continued their remarkable early-season run when they stunned
Villarreal 3-0 to move a point clear of Real Madrid at the top
of La Liga on Sunday.
The tiny Valencia-based club, who have an annual budget of
only 20 million euros compared with Real's of
almost 500 million, have 20 points from eight matches, including
three from a shock 1-0 home win over the big-spending Madrid
side last month.
Midfielder Juanlu, one of a slew of Levante players over 30,
netted twice in the first half at the Madrigal and Arouna Kone
struck 13 minutes into the second period as Juan Ignacio
Martinez's unfancied side secured a sixth straight win.
Villarreal, competing in this season's Champions League
after finishing fourth last term, are languishing in 16th on
just seven points.
Jose Mourinho's Real were the overnight leaders on 19 after
they thrashed Malaga 4-0 on Saturday thanks to a hat-trick from
the world's most expensive player Cristiano Ronaldo.
Champions Barcelona, bidding for a fourth consecutive title,
slipped to third on 18 after they were held to a 0-0 draw at
home to Sevilla, in fourth on 16.
The match at the Nou Camp ended in acrimony after Barca were
awarded a stoppage-time penalty and a mass brawl erupted which
led to the dismissal of Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute.
Goalkeeper Javi Varas saved Lionel Messi's spot-kick before
the visitors had defender Fernando Navarro sent off for a wild
tackle on Pedro.
In Sunday's earlier kick-offs, Roberto Soldado slotted an
89th-minute equaliser for Valencia in a 1-1 draw at home to
Athletic Bilbao after Iker Muniain had put the visitors ahead
with around 20 minutes left with a splendid run and shot.
Former Real Madrid and Getafe striker Soldado, who is
pushing for a place in the Spain squad, took his tally to six
for the season, four behind joint top scorers Messi and Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Real
Mallorca, their fourth stalemate of the campaign, with both
goals coming from the penalty spot.
Early pace-setters Real Betis won their opening four games
after gaining promotion to the top flight at the end of last
season but have now lost four in a row after they were beaten
2-0 at home to Rayo Vallecano.
Osasuna thumped visiting Real Zaragoza 3-0 and Real Sociedad
drew 0-0 at home to Getafe.
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