Betis joins pack at top of Spanish league as leaders slip
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Betis joined a group of seven teams separated by only three points at the top of the Spanish league after squeaking out a 1-0 win at home over Leganes on Sunday.
Repeated slips by leader Barcelona and second-place Real Madrid have given hope to a pack of pursuers after seven rounds.
Betis forward Lorenzo Moron scored a second consecutive winner for the Seville-based club, this time firing in a cross from Cristian Tello in the 89th minute after Giovani Lo Celso threaded a long pass through Leganes’ midfield to cue the decisive attack.
“We had the game under control throughout, they played the ball out from the back and I was fortunate once again for the ball to go in,” said Moron, who also scored for Betis in its 1-0 victory at Girona on Thursday.
The win lifted Betis into fifth place, level on points with Atletico Madrid in fourth. Both teams are just two points behind Barcelona and Madrid, and one point behind third-place Sevilla. Trailing one point behind Betis are Alaves and Espanyol.
ON THE RISE
Valladolid won 1-0 at Villarreal to give the promoted club its second straight victory since returning to the first division.
Valladolid, which was taken over by former Brazil great Ronaldo earlier this month, has had an impressive week after fighting back for a 3-3 league draw at Celta Vigo, coming from behind to beat Levante 2-1, and now winning its first match on the road.
Leo Suarez scored the winner for Valladolid in the 53rd. Goalkeeper Jordi Masip ensured the three points by saving a penalty kick from Gerard Moreno in the 83rd, after a video review ruled a Valladolid player had used his hand to stop the ball.
“We have earned seven of nine points this week and that gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” Masip said.
Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner and a former Madrid and Barcelona striker, owns a 51 percent stake in Valladolid.
VAR TWICE RIGHT
The video assistant referee weighed in to award two penalties, one for each team, in Girona’s 1-1 draw at Huesca.
First, VAR corrected the referee’s initial decision that a foul on Christian Stuani had taken place outside the area. Stuani converted from the spot for Girona.
Huesca later benefited from a video replay that awarded a penalty, converted by Gonzalo Melero.
Alaves missed a chance to pull level on points with front-runners Barcelona and Real Madrid after it conceded an early lead in a 2-1 loss at Levante.
Ruben Sobrino headed Alaves in front, only for David Remeseiro and Antonio Garcia to score for Levante before halftime.
Alaves hadn’t previously lost since the opening round, a run of five matches without a defeat.