Sevilla takes lead of Spanish league with 1-0 win at Alavés

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A brilliant free kick by Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordán earned a 1-0 victory at Alavés and lifted his team to the top of the Spanish league on Sunday.

Jordán struck a dipping free kick over the defensive wall that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco could only watch land in his net in the 38th minute.

The win at Alavés moved Sevilla into first place. Atlético Madrid is one point behind, followed by Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao two points back. Defending champion Barcelona and Real Sociedad are three points off the pace.

“The free kick was in a perfect spot,” Jordán said. “Being in the lead at this point is not important. It’s winning all three of our road games so far. That’s very difficult. It is thanks to the hard work of all the team.”

Sevilla didn’t threaten Alavés again and heavy rain affected the match which ended with a small scuffle that earned bookings for a pair of players on each team.

Mexico striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández made his debut for Sevilla as a late substitute.

Jordán, who joined Sevilla from Eibar, also scored in a 1-0 win at Granada in round two.

Coach Julen Lopetegui, who was fired by both Spain’s national team and Real Madrid during a turbulent 2018, has made an impressive start in Seville. Sevilla is undefeated in four rounds after also winning at Espanyol and drawing with Celta Vigo.

Lopetegui has based his immediate success on forging a defense that has conceded one goal in four matches.

Sevilla hosts Madrid next weekend.

400 AND COUNTING

Joaquín Sánchez converted a late penalty in his 400th appearance for Real Betis to salvage a 1-1 draw at home with Getafe.

Betis played for more than an hour with 10 men after William Carvalho received a red card for tripping a Getafe player with only the goalkeeper to beat. It also lost Loren Morón in the final seconds to another direct red for elbowing an opponent in the head while fighting for a ball.

“It’s always important to score, especially when you are playing with a man down. I am just happy to keep helping the team,” the 38-year-old Joaquín said.

SELF-DESTRUCTION

Celta Vigo played an hour of its 2-0 loss to Granada with only nine men.

Jorge Sáenz saw a direct red for a foul on Roberto Soldado in the 10th, and Fran Beltrán got a second yellow card before half an hour was up for two rash tackles.

FIRST GOALS

Espanyol scored its first goals of the season and got its first win after fighting back for a 2-1 victory at Eibar.

Facundo Ferreyra and Esteban Granero scored in the final 15 minutes to pull off the comeback.

Osasuna drew 1-1 at Valladolid.

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