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Fabiano double keeps Sevilla third in Spain

David Villa, left, and Juan Mata celebrate after Valencia's first goal in the win over Zaragoza.
David Villa, left, and Juan Mata celebrate after Valencia's first goal in the win over Zaragoza.
  • Sevilla retain third place in Spain as Luis Fabiano nets twice in 3-2 win at home to Villarreal
  • Sunday's victory leaves Sevilla three points behind second-placed Real Madrid
  • Fourth-placed Valencia one point adrift of Sevilla after beating Real Zaragoza 3-1

(CNN) -- Sevilla retained third place in Spain as Luis Fabiano netted twice in a pulsating 3-2 win at home to Villarreal.

The result lifted the club to within three points of second-placed Real Madrid, who beat city rivals Atletico on Saturday, and one ahead of Valencia -- who beat Zaragoza 3-1 earlier on Sunday.

Brazil forward Fabiano opened the scoring in the ninth minute after showing great control to bring down a cross by Sergio Sanchez and fire past goalkeeper Diego Lopez, although strike partner Alvaro Negredo appeared to be offside.

Veteran midfielder Robert Pires leveled 20 minutes later with a piece of magic of his own as he volleyed home after a smart one-two with Bruno, and the 36-year-old was also involved as Villarreal took the lead just before the hour mark.

The Frenchman burst free on the counter-attack, and goalkeeper Andres Palop could only block his cross with his legs, allowing David Fuster to drill the ball into the net on his full debut.

But Fabiano equalized a minute or so later with a looping header from a teasing cross by compatriot Adriano, who returned from injury as a substitute.

Fellow replacement Fredi Kanoute, who came on for Negredo at halftime, made it 3-2 with a smart header as the visitors were caught out by Diego Perotti's quickly-taken short corner, which allowed Adriano to again to supply the cross.

Fabiano went off with a minor injury five minutes from time, then Kanoute hit the outside of the post.

Valencia welcomed back captain David Villa from the suspension which saw him miss the 2-2 Europa League draw with Slavia Prague on Thursday, and the Spain striker helped his side to a comfortable home victory.

Villa was clearly offside as David Silva's through-ball went past him, but the referee waved play-on as Juan Mata raced clear to slot in the 17th-minute opener.

Villa made it 2-0 against former club five minutes before halftime as Pablo Hernandez legitimately beat the offside trap and selflessly squared the ball to his teammate.

Hernandez made it 3-0 two minutes later as the visitors again paid for defending too far up the pitch, allowing Villa to return the favor.

Zaragoza pulled a goal back in the 65th minute through Angel Lafita when goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez could only parry Marko Babic's 25-yard effort, and Marko Babic had an effort ruled out for offside three minutes from time.

In Sunday's other games Almeria won 2-0 at home to Osasuna in a mid-table battle, Racing Santander were left hovering above the relegation zone after a 2-0 defeat by visiting Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Gijon moved up to seventh with a 1-0 win over Espanyol and Valladolid were held 0-0 by second-bottom Xerez.