Sevilla squander chance to go joint top

MADRID - Sevilla missed out on the chance to join Real Madrid and Valencia at the top of La Liga after being held 1-1 at home by Racing Santander on Thursday and were whistled off the field at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Brazil striker Luis Fabiano was overlooked once again but Alvaro Negredo gave Sevilla the lead from the penalty spot after only 13 minutes as the hosts dominated.

Racing levelled with a fizzing volley from Pablo Pinillos in the 54th and Sevilla laboured to react, prompting howls of protest from their fans when the referee blew for time.

Sevilla captain and goalkeeper Andres Palop remonstrated with supporters behind his goal before storming off to the dressing rooms.

"I'm sorry for Andres. He's a great professional and loves Sevilla. He's just anxious to see the team do well and win at home, as are all the players," coach Antonio Alvarez told Spanish radio.

Calls for Alvarez to resign surfaced again, as they did after Sevilla's surprise failure to qualify for the Champions League group stages last month, but he laughed them off.

"I have great enthusiasm to continue and have no problems at all with the president or the sports director," he added.

The King's Cup holders are fifth with eight points from four games, two points behind the leaders.

Jose Mourinho's Real saw off Espanyol 3-0 at the Bernabeu on Tuesday and climbed above Valencia on goal difference after Unai Emery's side drew 1-1 at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Villarreal moved up to third after winning their third game in a row by beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 on Thursday thanks to a Nilmar effort in the 33rd minute at the Madrigal.

The Brazil striker netted his fourth goal in as many games to leave his side level on nine points with champions Barcelona, who beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Malaga were 2-0 winners at Getafe, with goals from Jose Rondon and an Apono penalty.

Interact: Twitter * Facebook * Forums