By Andy Hall
Valencia CF slipped in the Primera División title race after throwing away the lead to lose 2-1 against Sevilla FC in an enthralling match that also saw three players sent off.
Neither side could find an opening during an evenly balanced first half and an hour was nearly up before an Aitor Ocio own goal gave Valencia the lead at El Madrigal. But the home side could not retain the advantage and Sevilla were level on 63 minutes when Julio Baptista flicked the ball past Santiago Cañizares from close range to make it 1-1.
It got worse for the champions when Ruben Baraja was dismissed a minute later, but numerical parity was restored on 74 minutes when Brazilian defender Daniel Alves followed him down the tunnel. Sevilla then took the lead through Carlos Aranda, who quickly turned from hero to villain when he was ordered from the dugout for attempting to re-enter the field of play after he had been substituted. The visitors nevertheless held on and the result puts the two sides level on points, five behind leaders FC Barcelona.
Club Atlético de Madrid lie a point behind after beating Real Racing Club de Santander 1-0. Precocious youngster Fernando Torres was the game's only goalscorer, arriving at the far post to head in a Jorge Larena cross on seven minutes and send the Cantabrians to the bottom of the table.
Bernd Schuster's Levante UD side are also on 13 points after cruising to a 3-1 win at CD Numancia. Vladimir Manchev broke the deadlock on 30 minutes and Sergio García added a second from close range on the hour. Nacho Pérez drilled a spectacular third into the top corner before Julio Pineda headed a consolation goal six minutes from time.
Real Zaragoza warmed up for their UEFA Cup encounter against FC Utrecht with a 2-1 win against Real Sociedad de Futbol, equalling their best ever run of four consecutive victories. David Villa and Valery Karpin exchanged penalties midway through the first half before Savio Botolini added what proved to be the winner on 65 minutes. Athletic Club de Bilbao also won by a goal with a 1-0 victory at home against Málaga CF.
RCD Mallorca remain in the bottom four after gaining just a point at the Son Moix against Villarreal CF. Luis García rifled the home side ahead on 18 minutes but Villarreal levelled almost immediately through Diego Forlán.
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