Brazilian striker Nilmar scored his fourth goal in four games as Villarreal defeated Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 on Thursday to move above Barcelona into third place in the Spanish first division.
Club record signing Nilmar, who cost 11 million euros from Internacional last summer, found the target on 33 minutes to take him to the top of the La Liga goalscoring charts.
Villarreal lost their opening match 1-0 against Real Sociedad but have since recovered with three consecutive wins and their nine points edges them above Barcelona on goal difference and a point behind leading duo Real Madrid and Valencia.
Malaga won 2-0 at Getafe in a heated match that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
Malaga went ahead through Venezuelan striker Jose Rondon on 54 minutes and the game went further away from hosts Getafe when defender Rafael Gomez was sent off on the hour mark for conceding a penalty.
Antonio Apono converted the penalty kick to make it 2-0 but their numerical advantage lasted just six minutes as right back Jesus Gamez collected a second yellow card.
Malaga saw out the game comfortably with ten against ten and climb to eighth.
Later on Thursday unbeaten Sevilla have the chance to join Real Madrid and Valencia at the summit on 10 points with a home win over Racing Santander.
Sevilla’s season began with a painful Champions League qualifying exit but two wins and a draw represents a good start in the league and given under-pressure coach Antonio Alvarez some welcome relief.
“I wouldn’t say this (start) has taken pressure off me,” said Alvarez. “I am relaxed and happy with what we are doing and I am happy for the players.”
Racing are fourth from bottom with three points having beaten Real Zaragoza in their last outing.
Champions Barcelona, playing without the injured Lionel Messi, are on nine points after a narrow 1-0 home win over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday thanks to a goal from Spanish star David Villa.
“Not having the best player in the world has an impact but the team has always responded,” said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
Real also found it tough going against Espanyol before two late goals sealed a flattering 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real sit above Valencia, who drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, on goal difference.
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