Second-half goals from Santi Cazorla and Mati Fernández earned UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists Villarreal a 2-0 victory against Athletic Club Bilbao at El Madrigal before Frédéric Kanouté scored a hat-trick to inspire Sevilla to a 4-1 defeat of Real Valladolid.
Cazorla (68) fired across Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz after Giuseppe Rossi’s meandering run across the edge of the penalty area drew several Athletic defenders out of position. The visitors were then reduced to ten men when Markel Susaeta was dismissed eleven minutes from time and after the hosts had squandered chances to make the points safe, substitute Mati Fernández secured victory in added time with low shot after a weaving run inside the area.
The three points strengthen Villarreal’s position in fourth, five points ahead of fifth-placed Club Atletico de Madrid, although they trail Sevilla in third by six thanks, in part, to Kanouté. Although the Mali striker’s eighth-minute opener was cancelled out by Henok Goitom’s header, Kanouté restored Seville’s lead two minutes before the break. Luis Fabiano (57) then rounded goalkeeper Justo Villar and 19 minutes from time Kanouté completed his hat-trick by heading in Fernando Navarro’s cross for his tenth goal in seven league matches.