Kanoute fires Sevilla winner at Sporting

MADRID - 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.

Sevilla moved two points clear of Valencia, who were beaten 3-2 by visiting Real Madrid on Saturday thanks to a double from Real's Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Second-placed Real were under pressure to claim the three points after a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty, his 11th goal of the season, had given leaders Barcelona a 1-0 home victory over city rivals Espanyol, equalling their best ever start.

Real's win was soured by a serious 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 are four points further back on 30 and Valencia have 28.


Earlier on Sunday, Joseba Llorente bundled home the winner in added time as Villarreal battled from a goal down to beat Atletico Madrid at the Calderon.

Both sides had picked up form in recent weeks after poor starts to the campaign and Atletico, going for a third straight win, took the lead 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.

"We hadn't won away from home yet this season and we are very happy because it's a victory that could set us on our way up the standings," Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde said at a news conference.

Valverde's side climbed to 10th and Atletico remain in 14th with just 13 points from their 14 matches.

In other games on Sunday, Deportivo La Coruna were held to a 1-1 draw at struggling Almeria and slipped below in-form Real Mallorca into sixth.

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.

The result piled more pressure on Almeria coach H