Sevilla moves back to top of La Liga after beating Real Valladolid 1-0
Victory puts Sevilla one point above Barcelona at the summit, two clear of Atletico and six ahead of Real, who are languishing in sixth.
The way was open for Sevilla to take advantage and they made no mistake, Andre Silva continuing his excellent form this season by heading in the winner at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.
"Nobody expected us to be in this position of course," coach Pablo Machin said. "But we are going to fight. We deserve to have all these points and that is why we are first."
Hosts Sevilla certainly rode their luck, twice needing VAR to deny Real Valladolid an equaliser, with the first cancellation particularly fortunate. Enes Unal's strike was ruled out as the offside Toni Villa was deemed to be obstructing the goalkeeper's view.
After a slow start to the season, Machin's side are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, while in the league, they have only lost once, to Barca, in their last nine.
Real Valladolid, owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo, had been in good form too in recent weeks but a run of four games without a win means they drop to 12th.
Silva's eighth goal of the season was relatively straightforward, as he peeled away at the back post to head Pablo Sarabia's cross in off the post. Sarabia had done well to make space with a sharp turn inside the box.
La Real pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half and twice thought they had it. Unal, on as a substitute, rifled home on the hour but Villa, standing offside and close to the goalkeeper, was judged to be interfering with play.
The second decision was more clear-cut, Unal firing in a rebound from close range but this time he was the one that had strayed offside.
Sevilla could have had a second, with Wissam Ben Yedder twice going close while Sarabia forced a strong save from Jordi Masip with a long-range drive. In the end, one was enough.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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