MADRID (AP) — Paulo Henrique Ganso scored twice in his first start in more than three months to help Sevilla beat struggling Granada 2-0 in the Spanish league on Friday.
Ganso, the promising Brazilian midfielder who was yet to break through since joining the Spanish club this season, opened the scoring with a shot from inside the area less than five minutes into the match and increased the lead from close range shortly after halftime at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.
The victory moved Sevilla level on points with third-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Espanyol on Saturday. Third place automatically guarantees a Champions League spot next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.
Granada, winless in eight matches, stayed second-to-last in the 20-team standings, seven points from safety with five matches to go.
It was only the second time Ganso had scored for Sevilla. The other had come in a 9-1 rout of fourth-division club Formentera in the Copa del Rey last year.
Ganso hadn't started since a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid in a Copa del Rey match in January. He has played in only 13 games this season.
The talented playmaker thrived alongside Neymar with Brazilian club Santos, with many in Brazil saying that they had the same potential to succeed in European soccer.
But Ganso never reached the same stardom as Neymar and remained playing for Brazilian clubs until Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli signed him from Sao Paulo for about 10 million euros ($10.7 million).
League leader Madrid hosts second-place Barcelona on Sunday. Madrid is three points in front of the Catalan club.