Kone brace helps Levante keep up pace

Arouna Kone scored twice and set up a third goal as La Liga surprise packages Levante rediscovered their early-season form with a 4-0 demolition of Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

The tiny Valencia-based club went top of the table earlier this season for the first time since they were founded 102 years ago but a run of three defeats meant they lost ground.

Levante are now fourth with 26 points from 13 games, eight behind leaders Real Madrid who thumped Atletico Madrid 4-1 on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho's side moved six points clear of second-placed Barcelona who suffered their first defeat of the campaign at Getafe, losing 1-0. Valencia are third with 27 points after a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Sevilla climbed to fifth with 21 points after an Alvaro Negredo penalty secured a scrappy 1-0 win at Real Zaragoza on Sunday and they are one point ahead of Malaga who host Villarreal on Monday.

Ivorian striker Kone stole the ball and galloped away to set up Jose Javier Barkero for Levante's opener in the 20th minute and then Juanlu's shot was chested over the line by Valdo just after the break.

Kone broke clear to make it 3-0 for the home team before pouncing on a rebound in the 62nd minute as Asier del Horno's free-kick came back off the woodwork.

"To have 26 points at this stage of the season is the best news for us from today," Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez told reporters.

"We are the smallest team in the division and the fact we are two points behind Barca means little. We just need to accumulate as many points as possible."

Levante face Barca next weekend.

GOAL FROM HALFWAY

Promoted Granada upset in-form Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at San Mames, a first-half header from Inigo Lopez ending an unbeaten run of 11 matches in all competitions for Marcelo Bielsa's side.

Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez scored from the halfway line for the second time this season to earn his side a last-minute winner in a 3-2 victory at Real Betis.

Martinez caught keeper Casto Espinosa off his line from wide on the left, having scored a similar effort in the Basque derby last month.

A first win in nine matches eased the pressure on Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier but piled it on opposite number Pepe Mel who is without a victory in nine.

Osasuna also triumphed 2-1 at Espanyol while Real Mallorca won by the same scoreline at home to bottom club Racing Santander, giving coach Joaquin Caparros his first victory since taking over at the start of October.


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