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Valencia sees off Sevilla as Villarreal's bid for Europe hit

A BIZARRE handball by Sevilla defender Fernando Navarro gave away a late penalty which helped Valencia to a 3-1 comeback home win in the Primera Liga on Sunday.

Sevilla was stubbornly hanging on for a 1-1 draw with 10 men, having lost Adriano Correia to a red card in the first half, when Navarro flung his arm up and handled an overhit cross at the back post in the 83rd minute.

Juan Mata dispatched his team's second penalty of the match, after David Villa had converted a spot kick just before the break to cancel out Julien Escude's early header.

Valencia substitute Pablo Hernandez wrapped up the scoring on a counter-attack in the dying minutes to make it four wins from four for the hosts.

Navarro was at a loss to explain the handball in quotes carried on the Sevilla Website.

"I can't deny I touched the ball with my hand but it wasn't intentional," he said. "I don't know if I just miscalculated my jump or whether he (David Silva) pushed me, but it was a clear penalty. The game was decided by my error."

Unai Emery's side moved back up to fourth place and into the last Champions League qualification slot with 52 points, five behind third-placed Sevilla.

Barcelona continues to lead the standings by six points from champion Real Madrid after both sides won away on Saturday.

Barcelona has 78 points with seven games left after winning 1-0 at Getafe, while Real was 1-0 victors at Recreativo Huelva.

Earlier, Villarreal's chances of returning to the Champions League suffered another setback when it was held 0-0 at Real Valladolid.

Manuel Pellegrini's side, dumped out of this season's competition at the quarterfinal stage by Arsenal last week, was short on ideas in Valladolid.

The hosts lost defender Inaki Bea to a red card for a foul in the area early in the second half, but Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi put the penalty over the crossbar and it failed to make the extra man count. It was Villarreal's third league match in a row without a win.


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