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Sevilla routs Levante to end winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Sevilla routed Levante 5-0 on Saturday with a spectacular second half to end a four-match winless streak in the Spanish league.

Wissam Ben Yedder, Andre Silva, Franco Vazquez, Pablo Sarabia and Quincy Promes all scored after the interval to move Sevilla back to third in the league standings.

The home win put Sevilla on 36 points, the same as fourth-placed Real Madrid, which plays at Espanyol on Sunday. Sevilla is ahead on goal difference.

Sevilla and Madrid are five points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, and trail leader Barcelona by 10 points. Atletico hosts Getafe later Saturday, while Barcelona visits Girona on Sunday.

Sevilla hadn’t won in the league since December. It was coming off a 2-0 loss at Real Madrid in a result that dropped the team from the top three for the first time since October.

Last year, Sevilla routed Levante 6-2 in Valencia.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

US investors take over Spanish 2nd-division club Reus

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MADRID (AP) American investors are taking over Spanish second-division club Reus, keeping it from being dissolved and dropped from the league.

The club says real estate investment bankers Russell Platt and Clifton Onolfo have purchased 99.7 percent of Reus’ shares.

[ MORE: Barca signs Prince-Boateng ]

Financial details were not immediately released, but local media say the club’s debt has reached 5 million euros ($5.7 million).

The statement by Reus on Monday says the new group plans to build an 18,000-capacity stadium and an entertainment complex.

The club says Platt was a founder of Morgan Stanley Real Estate, while Onolfo was a former owner of the Connecticut Wolves, a team which used to play in the United Soccer League.

The takeover will allow Reus to keep playing in the second division and avoid the immediate risk of extinction. Last month, players demanded out of their contracts because they hadn’t been paid in months.

The new owners will have to show the club from near Barcelona is in compliance with rules by the Spanish league and other stakeholders.

Reus’ match against Las Palmas on Saturday was suspended because of the team’s situation.

The Catalan club is 20th in the 22-team second-division standings.

Among the players affected by Reus’ situation was young United States defender Shaq Moore, who was playing on a loan from Levante. He returned to Levante this month.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Without Messi, Barcelona loses to Levante in Copa del Rey

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona could not overcome the absence of Lionel Messi and other regular starters on Thursday, losing 2-1 at Levante in the first leg of the Copa del Rey’s round of 16.

Barcelona’s second-stringers struggled from the start in Valencia, escaping an even greater defeat only because Levante’s forwards squandered some clear scoring chances.

[ MORE: Willian-Malcom swap? ]

The return game is next Thursday at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, when the four-time defending champion is expected to have some of its starters back in action after they were rested this week.

Levante took the lead early with a close-range header by Uruguayan defender Erick Cabaco in the third minute, and striker Borja Mayoral scored the second goal with a low cross shot in the 18th.

The hosts kept threatening throughout the match, taking advantage of a Barcelona defense that was without Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Newly signed Colombian player Jeison Murillo was making his club debut in central defense.

“We got off to a great start,” Mayoral said. “We pressed early because we knew they were not used to playing together.”

Without Messi and Luis Suarez in attack, the Catalan club had difficulties creating scoring opportunities. The trio of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Malcom was largely ineffective, and the team’s lone goal came late with a penalty kick converted by Coutinho in the 85th after substitute Denis Suarez got past a defender and was fouled inside the area.

“In the second leg hopefully we will take advantage of Coutinho’s goal,” Murillo said.

Barcelona routed Levante 5-0 in Valencia in a league match in December.

SEVILLA THRIVES

Sevilla, a Copa finalist in two of the last three seasons, cruised to a 3-1 away win over Athletic Bilbao with goals by Manuel “Nolito” Agudo, Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder.

Mikel San Jose scored for Athletic, which is fighting against relegation in the Spanish league.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines ]

The teams face each other again in the league on Sunday. Their second-leg match in the Copa is next week in Seville.

Also Thursday, Real Betis was held by visiting Real Sociedad to a 0-0 draw.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid defeated Leganes 3-0 at home, while Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Girona.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Levante’s Morales scores unbelievable solo goal

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The La Liga season is under way today, and already the Spanish top flight has a strong candidate for goal of the season.

Levante is hoping to follow up last season’s disappointing 15th place finish with a more respectable spot in the table, and they’re off to a great start with a 2-0 win over Real Betis thanks in part to the unbelievable work by 31-year-old winger Jose Luis Morales.

The Spaniard took the ball in his own half on the right wing and rocketed forward at blistering pace, rounding all four defenders he faced as he sped towards the net. First, he whipped around William Carvalho who was utterly baffled and spun around helplessly just past the mid-line. Then he expertly touched the ball perfectly to avoid a tackle from behind by former Barcelona defender Marc Bartra. The brilliant touch also wrong-footed young Francis Guerrero who Morales jolted past, and finally Sergio Canales came sliding in with a last-ditch effort, but Morales cut back, leaving the former Real Madrid midfielder on the seat of his pants.

With just the goalkeeper to beat now, Morales hit a wonderful finish, somehow using the outside of his right foot to touch into the bottom-left corner, leaving a bemused Pau Lopez to figure out what the heck just happened. All of this took place with Morales moving at lightning speed, and fans were left dazzled by the incredible sight.

On the replay, it showed Morales may have been slightly fortunate as Bartra’s tackle appeared to have been somewhat successful in getting a touch on the ball, but it instead aided Morales’s run past the final two defenders. Either way, it’s unbelievable work from the Levante winger.

The goal put Levante 2-0 up in the 54th minute, and the scoreline would remain that way until Morales grabbed a second for a 3-0 final, giving Levante the first victory of the entire La Liga season.

Bournemouth again breaks transfer record with Colombian mid

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Bournemouth has made a big swing in the late stages of the summer transfer window.

Eddie Howe‘s Cherries have added Jefferson Lerma, the 23-year-old defensive midfielder with nine Colombia caps under his belt.

[ MORE: Behind Man Utd’s woes ]

The $32 million mid comes from Levante, where he’s made 93 appearances for La Liga’s Granotas.

It’s another transfer record for the Cherries, who bought Nathan Ake last summer and Jordon Ibe the season before that.

From AFCB.co.uk:

“It’s no secret that Jefferson has been someone we have chased for a while this summer. It’s been a complicated deal but I am certain it will be worth all the hard work that people have put in to make this happen.

“Jefferson is an extremely talented player and a very good athlete who will bring a different type of play to our midfield. He has a lot of qualities that will be suited to the Premier League and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

Lerma started the first and last matches of Colombia’s World Cup run, and came off the bench in the second and third matches.