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Leader Barcelona beats Celta 3-1 in Spanish league; Sevilla downs Levante 4-2

Leader Barcelona beats Celta 3-1 in Spanish league; Sevilla downs Levante 4-2

FC Barcelona kept its slim lead over Sevilla in the Spanish league after a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Javier Saviola, Ronaldinho and Ludovic Giuly each scored for the defending champions, who won for only the third time in their last eight league matches.
Sevilla beat Levante 4-2, with striker Frederic Kanoute scoring his 16th goal of the season. Alexander Kerzhakov and Alejandro Alfaro also scored, while an own-goal by Levante midfielder Damiano Tommasi helped to end the UEFA Cup champions' three-game winless streak.
In a late game, Valencia's run of six straight victories came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at struggler Real Betis.
Barcelona leads the league with 42 points, while Sevilla has 41. Real Madrid is next with 38 points, two more than Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
Also Sunday, it was: Zaragoza 1, Deportivo La Coruna 1; Getafe 2, Osasuna 0; Mallorca 2, Recreativo Huelva 1; Real Sociedad 0, Athletic Bilbao 2; and Gimnastic Tarragona 4, Espanyol 0.
In the continued absence of injured forward Samuel Eto'o, Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard again favored Javier Saviola rather than Eidur Gudjohnsen for the striking role.
Saviola responded by heading Barcelona into a 34th-minute lead from a cross by left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
The goal was the Argentina striker's eighth in the last six league and Copa del Rey games.
Celta, which went into the game without a league victory for more than two months, leveled in the 67th minute.
Nene converted a penalty, awarded after Barcelona defender Oleguer Presas was adjudged to have tripped Celta striker Fernando Baiano.
Saviola spurned several half-chances before Barcelona also won a spot kick after van Bronckhorst fell after a challenge by defender Gabriel Tamas. TV replays suggested the tackle took place outside the area.
Ronaldinho sent the penalty into the roof of the net for his 13th goal of the season.
Barcelona extended its lead in the 86th minute when Giuly, who had replaced Edmilson 16 minutes earlier, broke clear of the Celta defense and sent the ball between goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto's legs.
Kanoute, the league's leading scorer, scored in the 35th minute for Sevilla when he side-footed in a low cross by Kerzhakov on a counterattack at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium.
Kerzhakov, a recent signing from Zenit St. Petersburg, scored his first Spanish league goal in the 55th, converting a pass from the right by Alfaro.
Tommasi scored an own-goal in the 66th to give Sevilla a three-goal lead, although defender Frederic Dehu reduced the deficit with a header two minutes later.
Levante substitute Gustavo Reggi headed home in the 71st, but Alfaro scored Sevilla's fourth in the 76th.
Valencia's defeat came after striker David Villa gave the team a 10th-minute lead from David Silva's pass.
Betis' Robert leveled five minutes later after Xisco Munoz's attempted through ball was deflected into his path.
The Brazilian striker doubled his tally when he converted a 68th-minute penalty, awarded after Valencia captain David Albelda tripped substitute Jesus "Capi" Capitan.
Zaragoza stretched its winless run to three games against Deportivo, which remained without an away win this season.
Deportivo forward Sebastian Taborda scored with a 21st-minute header, but Diego Milito leveled for Zaragoza with an 80th-minute penalty for his 13th goal of the season. Taborda was ejected for the foul which led to the spot kick.
Getafe striker Daniel "Guiza" Gonzalez scored two first-half goals to defeat Osasuna in a rehearsal for the teams' Copa del Rey quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday.
Osasuna, which had four players ejected last week against Atletico Madrid, was reduced to 10 men when defender Josetxo Romero was sent off in the 78th.
Mallorca central defenders Sergio Ballesteros and Jose Carlos Nunes each scored before halftime to inflict Recreativo's first defeat in five games.
Recreativo midfielder Juanma Gomez reduced the deficit in the 49th, with Ballesteros receiving his second yellow card 20 minutes later.
Bilbao got the better of Sociedad with both teams in the Basque derby struggling against relegation.
Midfielder Andoni Iraola scored in the 13th and 69th minutes, while Sociedad midfielder Xabi Prieto missed a 36th-minute penalty.
Last-place Gimnastic, which has only won twice this season, underwent a transformation against Espanyol and led by four goals by halftime.
Javier Portillo put Gimnastic up 1-0 before a penalty from Alejandro Campano and other goals from Antonio Pinilla and Cesar Navas.


Updated : 2021-01-16 05:20 GMT+08:00