A hat-trick from Mali international Freddy Kanoute masterminded Sevilla’s 4-1 win over Valladolid on Saturday as they stayed six points ahead of Villarreal in the Champions League race.
Kanoute was the star of the show with two first half goals, including a spectacular volley, and a brilliant second half header to seal his treble and take his season’s tally to 15.
Villarreal had beaten Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to close to within three points of Sevilla but Manolo Jimenez’s team responded with their 16th win of the season to consolidate third place.
Kanoute put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute showing great control to take the ball in his stride before finding the target.
A Henok Goitom header on 21 minutes pulled Valladolid back into the game but Kanoute restored Sevilla’s lead with a fantastic first-time volley two minutes before the interval.
Fabiano added a third as Valladolid got their offside trap horribly wrong and Kanoute showed great technique to wrap the game up in the 70th minute with a header that sealed his hat-trick. Earlier, Villarreal put the pressure on Champions League rivals Atletico Madrid and Malaga with a 2-0 home win over Bilbao.
Goals from Santi Cazorla and Mati Fernandez saw fourth-placed Villarreal move five points clear of chasing Atletico and Malaga who were in action yesterday.
“We were superior from the start and if we had been more clinical we could have won by more,” said Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini. “I didn’t have to say anything to the players during the break because their attitude and the way they were playing was enough to get the win.”
For Bilbao, who had Markel Susaeta sent off late on, it was another setback and they have now failed to win in their last seven outings.