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By ESPN Staff

Kanoute blasts Sevilla to win at Sporting

Frederic Kanoute's emphatic finish early in the first half fired Sevilla to a 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Sunday to lift the Andalusians above Valencia into third.

The Mali striker played winger Jesus Navas through on the right in the ninth minute and surged into the penalty area to pick up the Spain international's low cross and smash the ball into the roof of the net.

French defender Gregory prevented Navas from doubling the visitors' lead with a goal-line clearance on the quarter hour and Ndri Romaric clipped a post with a header shortly after.

Chances were scarce in a scrappy second half, although Sporting striker David Barral should have done better than drive the ball into the side netting after outpacing defender Ivica Dragutinovic with 10 minutes remaining.

Joseba Llorente bundled home the winner in added time as Villarreal battled from a goal down to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in La Liga on Sunday.

Both sides had picked up form in recent weeks after miserable starts to the campaign and Atletico, going for a third straight win, took the lead at a chilly Calderon through Simao Sabrosa in the 37th minute. The Portugal forward galloped on to a superb through ball from Jose Antonio Reyes and finished coolly past Diego Lopez.

Villarreal began the second period brightly and some woeful Atletico defending gifted them a deserved equaliser on 49 minutes. Joan Capdevila swept over a hanging cross and David Fuster stole in to nod past Sergio Asenjo.

Reyes took a nasty-looking tumble over Lopez late in the second half, landing awkwardly on his head, and was stretchered from the pitch wearing a neck brace, before striker Llorente met Damian Escudero's cross to grab the three points.

Deportivo Coruna missed the chance to climb to fourth when they were held to a 1-1 draw at struggling Almeria .

Almeria's Nigerian forward Kalu Uche rose unmarked to nod Michel's cross past Daniel Aranzubia in the 58th minute before Pablo Alvarez headed Depor's equaliser with around a quarter of an hour remaining.

Depor slipped back to sixth below Real Mallorca, who continued to make light of their off-field problems when midfielder Gonzalo Castro smashed in a 61st-minute winner at Osasuna.

Uruguayan midfielder Juan Albin netted twice as Getafe beat promoted Tenerife 2-1, Racing Santander overcame fellow strugglers Xerez 3-2 to climb out of the relegation places and Real Valladolid drew 1-1 with second-from-bottom Malaga.

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty, his 11th goal of the season, gave undefeated leaders Barcelona a 1-0 home victory over Espanyol in Saturday's Catalan derby, equalling their best ever start.

Second-placed Real Madrid kept pace with the champions when a Gonzalo Higuain double fired them to a 3-2 success at third-placed Valencia but the win was soured by a knee injury to defender Pepe that will keep him out for six months.

Barca, who have played one more game than all their rivals, have 39 points from 15 matches, five ahead of Real.

Sevilla can climb above Valencia and cut the gap to Real back to four points with victory at Sporting Gijon later on Sunday, and Atletico Madrid and Villarreal will bid to cement an improvement in form when they meet in the Spanish capital.

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