La Liga: Sevilla go top as Barca drop points

September 13, 2008

MADRID, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Sevilla survived a seven-goal thriller to beat promoted Sporting Gijon 4-3 at home and take top spot in the Primera Liga on Saturday.

Frederic Kanoute got the winner as Manolo Jimenez's side made the most of Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Racing Santander and early pacesetters Atletico Madrid's 2-1 defeat by 10-man Valladolid. Atletico won their opening game 4-0 over Malaga.

Sporting's Croatian striker Mate Bilic scored two goals in two first-half minutes to silence the Sanchez Pizjuan and completed his hat-trick with a penalty in the 45th.

But by then Sevilla had stormed back to take the lead through Ernesto Chevanton, Kanoute and Enzo Maresca.

Mali striker Kanoute claimed his second after visiting goalkeeper Sergio Sanchez fumbled in the second half to complete an impressive fightback.

Sevilla are top with four points from two games. Champions Real Madrid, who lost their opening game 2-1 at Deportivo Coruna play promoted Numancia at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola was denied his first league win at the helm, having lost the season opener 1-0 at Numancia, when his side struggled to break down a well-organised Racing.

They lost Belarus midfielder Aleksandr Hleb to damaged ankle ligaments just before the break, and Guardiola turned to substitute Lionel Messi to lift the side in the second half.

Only the saves of visiting goalkeeper Tono kept them at bay until Racing's Christian Fernandez handled in the area for a penalty in the 71st minute.

Argentina forward Messi broke the deadlock from the spot but soon after Jonathan Pereira diverted Ezequiel Garay's free kick into the net to equalise.

Atletico left Diego Forlan at home and strike partner Sergio Aguero on the bench with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League opener at PSV Eindhoven, for the Valladolid trip.

The home side took full advantage when Atletico goalkeeper Gregory Coupet failed to get to a free kick in the fourth minute, allowing Angel Vivar Dorado to bundle the ball home.

They lost fullback Pedro Lopez to a second yellow card for a dive in the area in the 21st but Atletico failed to react.

Valladolid's Vivar Dorado went down in the box at another free kick in the 28th minute and Javier Baraja put away the ensuing penalty to amke it 2-0.

Atletico turned to Aguero at the interval and the Argentina striker made an immediate impact, pouncing on a parry from Sergio Asenjo in the 55th minute, but Valladolid held firm.