LEAD: Victories for Atletico Madrid, Bilbao and Gijon
Nov 20, 2011, 22:02 GMT
Madrid - Atletico Madrid gave their long-suffering fans something to shout about Sunday with a late 3-2 home defeat of fourth-placed Levante.
Anything but victory could have meant the sack for embattled coach Gregorio Manzano, and his team failed to break down the veteran Levante defence for more than an hour.
Manzano brought on Jose Antonio Reyes and youngster Pizzi, and in the 69th minute Reyes set up the Portuguese midfielder to make it 1-0.
Xavi Torres quickly equalized for Levante, but Adrian Lopez restored Atletico's lead by heading in a centre from Arda Turan.
Seven minutes from time, Brazilian playmaker Diego made it 3-1 for Atletico with a powerful drive. Ruben Suarez pulled a second goal back for Levante, but it came too late to save them for their third straight defeat.
The win takes Atletico up to ninth and gives Manzano a little breathing space.
Earlier on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao moved up to sixth with an impressive 2-1 win at fifth-placed Sevilla.
Right-back Andoni Iraola gave Bilbao the lead after just six minutes, after the shaky Sevilla defence had failed to clear a free-kick from Ander Herrera.
Nine minutes later Spain winger Jesus Navas levelled for Sevilla after being set up by a generous header from Frederic Kanoute.
But Bilbao continued to dominate, and it came as little surprise when Oscar de Marcos made it 2-1 for the visitors 18 minutes from time, on a perfect through-ball from teenage prospect Iker Muniain.
The audacious Muniain, aged just 18, then came close to making it 3-1, with the Sevilla defence in disarray.
Athletic coach Bielsa said: 'Sevilla are a team with good forwards, but we managed to control them in the second half...The win was not easy, but it was deserved.'
Bilbao now have 17 points from 12 games, just one point less than Sevilla, whose coach Marcelino Garcia is now in jeopardy.
Sevilla made a good start to the season but have now gone five games without a win. Bilbao, in contrast, started slowly - with the players struggling to adapt to new coach Marcelo Bielsa - but have now put together an eight-match unbeaten run.
Earlier on Sunday, Sporting Gijon came from behind to beat Getafe 2-1, with goals from Oscar Trejo and Nacho Novo. Getafe had French midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada sent off.
Sunday's two other early matches - Real Sociedad v Espanyol and Osasuna v Rayo Vallecano - were both 0-0 draws.
These results leave Sociedad joint bottom, with nine points, together with Granada and Racing Santander.
Later on Sunday, Granada are at home to Mallorca. Santander will receive Malaga on Monday.