Levante on top in Spain

Surprise package Levante join Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division with a decisive victory over 10-man Malaga.

    Minnows Levante have little money compared to Catalan giants Barcelona, above, yet find themselves at the top again after an extraordinary start to the season [EPA]

    Levante extended their remarkable early-season run when they beat 10-man Malaga 3-0 on Sunday to rejoin champions Barcelona at the top of Spain's Primera Division.

    The tiny Valencia-based club, whose annual budget of around 27.7 million dollars compares with Barca's of almost 686 million, took the lead through Jose Barkero in the 14th minute before Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero was shown a straight red card for handling outside his area.

    His replacement Ruben saved the resulting free kick but Juanlu, one of a slew of Levante players over 30 years old, was quickest to react and poked the loose ball in to double the home side's lead with just over half an hour gone.

    A Ruben howler gifted Levante a third in the 41st minute when he failed to clear and Arouna Kone, who scored the only goal in Levante's shock 1-0 win over Real Madrid last month, broke clear to tap the ball into an empty net.

    Level-pegging

    Results

    Sunday October 16

     Vallecano 0-1 Espanyol 
     Zaragoza 2-0 Sociedad 
     Levante 3-0 Malaga
     Sevilla 2-1 Sporting Gijon

    Saturday October 15

     Barcelona 3-0 Santander
     Getafe 0-0 Villarreal 
     Granada 0-0 Atletico
     Mallorca 1-1 Valencia
     Real Madrid 4-1 Betis

    Levante's fifth successive victory put them level on 17 points with Barca, who are top on goal difference after seven matches.

    Ambitious and free-spending Malaga, owned by a member of the Qatar royal family and with a budget of around 206 million dollars, are fifth on 13 points.

    Primera Division top scorer Lionel Messi netted his ninth and 10th goals of the campaign in a 3-0 win for Barca, bidding for a club record-equalling fourth title in a row, at home to Racing Santander on Saturday.

    Barca and Levante have a one-point lead over Real Madrid, who thumped visiting Real Betis 4-1 on Saturday thanks to a third hat-trick in two weeks from Messi's Argentina team mate Gonzalo Higuain.

    Valencia, who drew 1-1 at Real Mallorca on Saturday, are fourth on 14 points.

    In Sunday's earlier kickoffs, Real Zaragoza's Portugal striker Helder Postiga struck twice, including a brilliant volley, to earn a 2-0 home win over Real Sociedad.

    Ivory Coast midfielder Ndri Romaric scored the only goal as Espanyol ended a run of two defeats with a 1-0 victory at promoted Rayo Vallecano.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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