No happy return for Sevilla's Reyes

Jose Antonio Reyes fails to inspire Sevilla against Rayo Vallecano as Barcelona are held at Espanyol.

    A disappointing debut for the formal Arsenal winger [EPA]

    The return of forward Jose Antonio Reyes to Sevilla was spoiled by Rayo Vallecano on Sunday as the promoted side won 2-1 to break a four-game losing streak in Spain’s Primera Division.

    Rayo forward Miguel "Michu'' Perez headed in a cross that was fumbled by Sevilla goalkeeper Javi Varas to give the hosts the lead against the run of play in first-half added time before Raul Tamudo extended the advantage shortly after the restart.

    Defender Julien Escude pulled one back for the visitors in the 61st, but Rayo claimed the victory after Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo volleyed off the crossbar in the dying moments.

    Reyes, who began his playing career with Sevilla, returned to his boyhood club on Thursday from Atletico Madrid. The former Arsenal player had a subdued performance before being substituted in the second half.

    "Taking into account that (Reyes) was playing with new teammates and that he hadn't played much recently, he played well,'' said Sevilla coach Marcelino Garcia.

    "The game hinged on their ability to capitalise on our mistakes.''

    In the late game substitute Alvaro Vazquez headed home an 86th-minute equaliser as Espanyol held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw for the defending champions to slip five points behind Spanish leaders Real Madrid.

    Honours even

    Elsewhere, Valencia came from behind to draw 2-2 at Villarreal in coach Jose Molina's debut for the "Yellow Submarine,'' and Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 at Getafe.

    Marco Ruben opened the scoring for Villarreal in the 14th after a one-two combination with strike partner Nilmar left him free in the area. Four minutes later defender Gonzalo Rodriguez added another before Sofiane Feghouli halved the deficit for the visitors in the 41st.


    Saturday January 7

    Levante 0-0 Mallorca
    Santander 1-0 Zaragoza
    Real Sociedad 0-0 Osasuna
    Real Madrid 5-1 Granada
    Malaga 0-0 Atletico Madrid

    Sunday January 8

    Vallecano 2-1 Sevilla
    Getafe 0-0 Bilbao
    Villarreal 2-2 Valencia
    Real Betis 2-0 Gijon
    Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona

    Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves denied Villarreal the deciding goal and substitute Aritz Aduriz slotted into the right corner of the net to cap the fightback in the 87th.

    "No one is ever calm on the bench, whether you are in the topflight or the third tier,'' said Molina, who coached Villarreal's youth team in the third division last season.

    "I think we deserved to win, (but) I am happy because I saw my players work hard and play some good football for stretches.''

    Villarreal remained winless in nine consecutive games in all competitions, while Valencia stayed in third place, nine points behind league leaders Real Madrid.

    The game at Alfonso Perez coliseum saw the return of Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente as a second-half substitute after missing seven games with a left knee injury.

    Also, teammate Iker Muniain set the record for the youngest player in the history of the Spanish league to have made 100 appearances at the age of 19 years and 20 days.

    Bilbao's Markel Susaeta fired an angled shot that first hit the crossbar before bouncing off the far post in the 74th, and four minutes later Getafe striker Nicolas "Miku'' Fedor sent his header off the woodwork in the best chances for both mid-table teams.

    Real Betis extended their turnaround with a third straight victory after beating nine-man Sporting Gijon 2-0 thanks to goals in each half by strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Jorge Molina.

    Sporting played a man down in the second half after defender Alberto Lora received his second booking in the 44th, and Carmelo Gonzalez was sent off in added time.



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