Real Sociedad and Sevilla win, move near top in Spain
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By TALES AZZONI
MADRID (AP) Home wins for Sevilla and Real Sociedad on Sunday left a group of six teams separated by only three points at the top of the Spanish league.
Sevilla scored late to beat Levante 1-0, and Real Sociedad came from behind in a 3-1 win over Real Betis.
Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid all have 16 points, one point behind Granada and two points behind second-place Real Madrid.
Barcelona took the league lead with 19 points after a 3-0 win over Eibar on Saturday, when Madrid lost 1-0 at Mallorca for its first league defeat of the season. Atletico was held by Valencia to a 1-1 draw at home.
Real Sociedad moved to fourth place with the victory, which ended its three-game winless streak. It was coming off a run that included a draw and two consecutive league losses.
"We played a good game from start to finish," Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil said. "I'm very pleased with the way the team has been playing. We've played well even when we couldn't get the victories in recent games. Our fourth place in the standings is a reflection of our good performances."
Loren Moron put Real Betis ahead in the 12th minute at the Reale Arena, but the hosts equalized with an own-goal by Javi Garcia in the 22nd. Real Sociedad took the lead with Willian Jose's goal in the 36th and Portu sealed the victory in the 58th.
It was another good performance by Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard for Real Sociedad, which extended its home unbeaten streak against Real Betis to 16 years.
Real Betis has won only one of its last five games and is yet to win an away match in the league this season. It dropped to 18th in the 20-team standings.
Sevilla rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Barcelona with a hard-fought win over midtable Levante, with Luuk de Jong scoring the only goal with an 86th-minute header.
It was his first goal with Sevilla since the Netherlands striker joined the Spanish club in the offseason.
"He had been working hard for the team and this is a reward for his effort," Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui said.
The result left Sevilla in sixth place.
Athletic Bilbao's struggles continued with a 1-1 home draw against Valladolid, with the visitors' equalizer coming through an own-goal by veteran Athletic defender Inigo Martinez after goalkeeper Unai Simon failed to hold a cross into the area.
Inaki Williams had opened the scoring with a great run in the first half.
The result extended Athletic's winless streak to four matches and left the club in eighth place.
It was the fourth straight league match without a loss for 12th-place Valladolid.
Espanyol coach Pablo Machin debuted with a 1-0 loss to Villarreal, the team's third straight loss in the league and fifth consecutive at home.
The result kept the Barcelona club second-to-last in the standings with five points from nine matches. It trails Real Betis by four points and is three ahead of last-place Leganes.
Karl Toko Ekambi scored the winner for Villarreal, which moved to sixth with 14 points.
Celta Vigo stayed just outside of the relegation zone after a 2-0 loss at Alaves. It was coming off a win over Athletic Bilbao but had been winless in its previous six matches.
It was the second win in three matches for Alaves, which moved to 14th place.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
Updated October 20, 2019