Levante extended its best ever start by beating 10-man Malaga 3-0 Sunday for a fifth straight victory that kept it level with Barcelona atop the Spanish league.
In a matchup between the league’s lowest payroll and biggest offseason spender, Levante outplayed the revamped Malaga by taking advantage of the visitors’ goalkeeping gaffs. Jose Barkero’s shot took a friendly deflection off a Malaga player in the 14th minute to leave goalkeeper Willy Caballero out of position as the ball crossed the goal line for Levante’s opener.
Caballero was sent off for handling outside the area in the 28th and Juanlu Gomez pounced on the rebound of Barkero’s ensuing free kick as it came off the defensive wall to tuck under substitute ‘keeper Ruben Martinez. Martinez hesitated on clearing a long ball into the area in the 41st and Aroune Kone scored his second goal of the season to seal Malaga’s second loss.
Elsewhere, Sevilla beat last-place Sporting Gijon 2-1, Espanyol edged Rayo Vallecano 1-0, and Helder Postiga scored a pair of goals to give Zaragoza a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad.
Manuel del Moral drove a perfectly placed shot from outside the area just inside the right corner of the crossbar to put Sevilla ahead in the 15th, and defender Martin Caceres doubled the lead in the 57th when he headed in a rebound.
Striker David Barral pulled one back for Sporting in the 64th, but the Andalusian side hung on for its fourth win in as many home games this season as it moved into fourth place — one point behind Madrid and one point ahead of Valencia.
In Madrid, Ndri Romaric’s second-half goal lifted Espanyol over Rayo for its first away victory in the Spanish league since January.
After a first half of few scoring chances, the former Sevilla midfielder received the ball inside the area in the 56th minute before slotting home a right-footed shot into the low left corner.
Espanyol ended a two-game losing streak, while promoted side Rayo remained winless in its last four games.
At La Romareda stadium, Postiga put Zaragoza ahead in the 11th with spectacular bicycle kick to volley in a cross from Efrain Juarez.
Leonardo Ponzio came close to doubling the lead when his free kick hit the post, and four minutes into the second half the Zaragoza midfielder set up Postiga in the area to cap Zaragoza’s first win in four games. After a solid start to the season, Sociedad has lost three consecutive games.
On Saturday, Lionel Messi took his league leading goal total to 10 with a double as Barcelona beat Racing Santander 3-0, while fellow Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain netted a hat trick in Real Madrid’s 4-1 win over Real Betis.