Levante rediscovered its winning form to thrash Sporting Gijon 4-0 on Sunday and end a three-game losing streak in the Spanish league.
Levante stayed in fourth place, one point behind Valencia, with the first victory since its memorable start to the season took the team to the top of the league for the first time in its history.
”No one can doubt this team,” said Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez. ”The important thing is that we have already earned 26 points at this stage of the season.”
Earlier, defender Inigo Martinez scored with a spectacular shot from the halfway line on the final whistle to give Real Sociedad a 3-2 win at Real Betis.
Arouna Kone guided Levante to its most lopsided victory of the season by scoring twice and setting up another at Ciutat de Valencia stadium.
The Ivory Coast striker set up the hosts’ 20th-minute opener when he stole the ball from Sporting defender Roberto Canella, charged forward to draw in the defense, and laid off for Jose Barkero to tap home.
Sporting reacted with striker David Barral having the best chance to equalize before halftime when he flicked a header just by the post.
But after the restart Levante quickly put the result beyond doubt with two counterattacks.
Valdo Lopes pushed in a rebound from a shot by Juanlu Gomez to double Levante’s lead in the 47th, and five minutes later Kone deftly dribbled past Sporting goalkeeper Juan Colinas before rolling the ball into the net.
Kone then slotted in the rebound after a free kick by Asier del Horno that came off the post in the 62nd to cap Sporting’s first loss in six rounds.
Also, 10-man Mallorca beat Racing Santander 2-1 for its first win under coach Joaquin Caparros since replacing Michael Laudrup, while Osasuna also played a man down in the final 15 minutes as it held on to win 2-1 at Espanyol for its first away victory of the season.
In Seville, the game came alive following a scoreless first half.
Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty kick for Sociedad before the Basque visitors went in front through striker Imanol Agirretxe’s header in the 56th minute and Carlos Vela’s goal in the 76th.
Substitute forward Jonathan Pereira pulled Betis level with two late goals in the 81st and 85th, but Martinez pushed forward and caught Betis goalkeeper Casto Espinosa off his line with a perfectly place left-footed lob from the center of the pitch.
The victory ends his team’s eight-game winless run and provisionally lifted it out of the relegation zone.
”The ending to the game was just cruel,” said Betis coach Pepe Mel, whose team has lost eight of the last nine matches after a strong start to the season.
Martinez scored a similar goal from the halfway line in a 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao earlier this season.
Later, Athletic Bilbao hosts Granada looking to stay undefeated in nine league games, followed by Sevilla’s visit to Zaragoza.
Malaga hosts Villarreal on Monday to close round 13.
On Saturday, Real Madrid extended its lead to six points at the top of the league after a comeback 4-1 win against nine-man Atletico Madrid, while second-place Barcelona lost 1-0 at Getafe.
Also, Valencia beat Rayo 2-1 to trail Barcelona by one point and Madrid by seven.