Sevilla chalked up a fourth straight La Liga win to continue their push for a UEFA Champions League spot, while Levante’s David Barral scored a hat-trick in a crucial relegation battle.
In Seville, the hosts cruised to a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao – Aleix Vidal’s third-minute goal added to by Carlos Bacca in the 21st minute.
Adding injury to insult for Bilbao was a left-knee sprain to attacker Iker Muniain, who was stretchered from the field late in the first half.
Sevilla kept a clean sheet for the third consecutive time in the Spanish top flight, closing to within two points of Valencia – who occupy the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place.
Valencia play Villarreal on Sunday – and a win would see them climb back above Atletico Madrid, who were victorious on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s champions won 2-0 at Cordoba to move back into third place, with Antoine Griezmann and Saul scoring first-half goals.
Meanwhile, Barral was the toast of Levante as he fired them clear of the relegation zone in a 4-1 win over Almeria.
The treble was Barral’s second in his past eight appearances, and he has scored 10 goals in 11 matches in all competitions.
The 31-year-old was twice assisted by Andreas Ivanschitz, before sealing his hat-trick in the 75th minute.
The comprehensive victory sent Levante to 28 points, three clear of relegation-placed Almeria.
Real Sociedad’s winning streak ended at three games, but they fought back to earn a point at Malaga in a 1-1 stalemate.
Recio’s 55th-minute opener had looked to have given Javi Gracia’s men all three points, which would have left them two points behind Villarreal – who occupy a UEFA Europa League spot.
Instead, they are four points outside of Europe – plus Villarreal have a game in hand – after Ruben Pardo’s 83rd-minute equaliser for Sociedad.
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