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La Liga: Sevilla, Atletico jump past faltering Barcelona, Real Madrid

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Real Madrid lost on Saturday and Barcelona drew on Sunday, and those around them made them pay.

Sevilla and Atletico Madrid took over the top two spots in the La Liga table with Sunday victories, pushing Barcelona and Real Madrid back to third and fourth.

Atletico Madrid went first and topped Real Betis 1-0, an impressive feat given that Betis had conceded just two goals over its last eight matches, including seven clean sheets. Atletico held just 36% possession, but they still managed to out-shoot Betis 13-5, including 5-0 on target. The goal came in the 74th minute as substitute Angel Correa, who had come off the bench just before the hour mark, burst through the middle and shot a speculative effort towards the far post which Betis goalkeeper Pau Lopez somehow wasn’t able to reach.

While that momentarily brought Atletico to the top of the league table, Sevilla took that spot hours later as they topped Celta Vigo 2-1 at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Pablo Sarabia got things started in the 39th minute with a bullet header on a corner. Celta Vigo then went a man down as Mexican international Nestor Araujo picked up two yellow cards just two minutes apart and was off. He fouled Andre Silva by pulling him back on the break, and then just ticks later he chopped Silva down to earn an early shower. Sevilla then doubled its lead on a beautiful play as Silva expertly chipped the back line to a free Sarabia down the right, and he crossed to Wissam Ben Yedder for an easy tap-in at the far post. Former West Ham forward Sofiane Boufal scored a consolation for Celta just minutes before full-time to make things interesting but it wasn’t enough.

The pair of victory saw Sevilla move to the top of the La Liga table on 16 points, with Atletico right behind them at 15. Barcelona and Real Madrid each have 14 points, only ahead of Espanyol and Alaves on goal differential.

Espanyol got to that position by beating Villareal 3-1 in Barcelona thanks to Sergi Darder’s game winner in the 79th minute. It came on a bad mistake by Villareal’s Manu Trigueros who completely whiffed on his clear, allowing Melendo’s cross to reach Darder near the penalty spot. The home side pummeled Sergio Asenjo’s net, finishing the match with 28 shots, including 12 on target.

Barcelona had the late kick, visiting Valencia needing a win to re-take the La Liga lead, and they were unable to make it happen, only rescuing a 1-1 draw thanks to Lionel Messi’s equalizing goal. Barcelona had 76% possession during the match and out-passed Valencia 901-232, but were only able to get 10 shots off, putting five on target. Meanwhile, Valencia also managed 10 shots, with three on target, and scored just two minutes into the match. 31-year-old Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay directed a near-post header on net off a corner, and Valencia had a stunning lead. Messi leveled in the 23rd minute on a one-two with Suarez, shooting into the bottom-right corner from outside the top of the box. Still, Barcelona fell back to third in the table thanks to the draw.

La Liga shockers: Barca loses, but Real fails to take advantage

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Maybe some foresaw Sevilla beating Real Madrid on Wednesday, but did anyone predict that decision would join a Leganes defeat of Barcelona hours earlier?

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Andre Silva scored twice and Wissam Ben Yedder continued his fine season with a goal past as Sevilla beat Real to stop Los Blancos from taking ahold of the La Liga lead.

Sevilla managed seven shots on target in the match, while Real only managed three. Thibaut Courtois was between the sticks for Real.

The loss stings more because Barcelona wasted a Philippe Coutinho 12th minute opener and lost 2-1 to last place Leganes at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.

Nabil El Zhar and Oscar Rodriguez scored a minute apart early in the second half, and Leganes boosted its points total from one to four.

Alaves can join Barcelona and Real Madrid on a league-best 13 points with a win on Thursday, as no unbeaten teams remain in La Liga. Atletico Madrid has 11 points, while Sevilla and Espanyol each have 10.

Elsewhere
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Villarreal
Valencia 1-1 Celta Vigo

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 6 4 1 1 17 7 10 2-1-0 2-0-1 13
 Real Madrid 6 4 1 1 12 6 6 3-0-0 1-1-1 13
 Atlético Madrid 6 3 2 1 8 4 4 2-1-0 1-1-1 11
 Sevilla 6 3 1 2 13 6 7 1-1-1 2-0-1 10
 Alavés 5 3 1 1 8 5 3 1-1-0 2-0-1 10
 Espanyol 6 3 1 2 6 4 2 3-0-0 0-1-2 10
 Celta Vigo 6 2 3 1 11 9 2 1-2-0 1-1-1 9
 Villarreal 6 2 2 2 5 3 2 0-1-2 2-1-0 8
 Real Sociedad 6 2 2 2 9 9 0 0-1-1 2-1-1 8
 Girona 5 2 2 1 7 8 -1 1-1-1 1-1-0 8
 Getafe 5 2 1 2 4 4 0 1-1-1 1-0-1 7
 Eibar 6 2 1 3 5 7 -2 2-0-1 0-1-2 7
 Athletic 5 1 3 1 7 9 -2 1-2-1 0-1-0 6
 Betis 5 1 3 1 3 5 -2 1-1-1 0-2-0 6
 València 6 0 5 1 4 6 -2 0-3-0 0-2-1 5
 Levante 5 1 1 3 8 11 -3 0-1-2 1-0-1 4
 Leganés 6 1 1 4 6 11 -5 1-1-1 0-0-3 4
 Rayo Vallecano 5 1 1 3 5 12 -7 0-0-2 1-1-1 4
 Huesca 6 1 1 4 6 16 -10 0-0-2 1-1-2 4
 Valladolid 5 0 3 2 3 5 -2 0-0-2 0-3-0 3

Ben Yedder makes it five goals in three days with first-half hat trick

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BARCELONA, Spain — Wissam Ben Yedder hit a first-half hat trick to lead Sevilla to a 6-2 rout at Levante in the Spanish league on Sunday.

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It was the second big win for Sevilla in three days. Ben Yedder scored twice in a 5-1 home win over Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday.

Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik saved a penalty kick by Jose Morales that would have allowed Levante to pull level at 2-2 midway through the first half.

Pablo Sarabia also scored for Sevilla and set up three more goals. Daniel Carrico and Andre Silva also got on the scoresheet for the visitors.

Sevilla had gone three rounds without a win in La Liga since its victory in the opening round at Rayo Vallecano.

Roger Marti scored for Levante, which also got a late own goal from Simon Kjaer.

Later, Barcelona hosts Girona seeking a fifth win in as many rounds.

Report: Roma to sign French international Nzonzi

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According to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Roma is nearing completion of a deal for Sevilla midfielder Steven Nzonzi that would cost the Italian club around $34 million.

The total cost is just shy of the $40 million release clause in Nzonzi’s contract, but with Nzonzi set to turn 30 in December and his Sevilla contract set to run out in 2020, this is likely the last year Sevilla would have any leverage to entertain a significant transfer fee.

The 29-year-old was a member of France’s 2018 World Cup winning squad, making five appearances in Russia. He has nine caps overall for the national team.

Roma makes sense as a landing spot for Nzonzi. With Radja Nainggolan sold this summer to Inter and Daniele de Rossi now 35 years old, 29-year-old Maxime Gonalons is the only other defensive midfielder on the roster. Nzonzi had a fantastic season with Sevilla last campaign, earning him a spot on France’s World Cup roster behind N'Golo Kante.

On Sunday, Sevilla sporting director confirmed that Nzonzi wants to leave the club, but said a suitor must submit a “significant offer” for him to be sold.

Messi wins record 33rd title as Barcelona lift Super Cup

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TANGIER, Morocco (AP) — Lionel Messi won his 33rd title with Barcelona on Sunday to become the most successful player in the Catalan club’s history.

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Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1 in the Spanish Super Cup as Messi overtook Andres Iniesta, who had 32 titles when he left this summer for the Japanese league.

Ousmane Dembele scored a late winning goal with a blistering strike from outside the area. The 21-year-old France winger stunned Sevilla’s defense with a right-footed shot that hit the underside of the crossbar in the 78th minute.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a penalty kick from Sevilla substitute Wissam Ben Yedder in the 89th after Ter Stegen fouled former Barcelona forward Aleix Vidal.

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Pablo Sarabia opened for Sevilla in the ninth, when the video assistant referee overruled an offside call in the first use of VAR in Spanish competition.

Gerard Pique equalized three minutes before halftime when he finished off a free kick by Messi that hit the post and ricocheted off the back of goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik — and again off the upright — before falling to the Barcelona defender.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal debuted for Barcelona as a late substitute.

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The Super Cup is played between the previous season’s league and Copa del Rey winners. Since Barcelona won both competitions, Sevilla played the match as the Copa runners-up after losing 5-0 in last season’s cup final to Barcelona.

Played in Tangier, Morocco, this was the first Spanish Super Cup held outside Spain and the first time it was played as a single match, instead of a two-leg series.