BARCELONA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella earned his first win in La Liga at the third attempt as his side secured an impressive 3-0 victory at Espanyol on Saturday to go fifth in the standings.
Franco Vazquez knocked in a loose ball on the rebound after a well crafted move to put Sevilla in front after 15 minutes, the first time they had taken the lead in a Liga game under the Italian coach, who succeeded Eduardo Berizzo in December.
Pablo Sarabia added another before haltime and Luis Muriel rounded off the victory with a late third.
Sevilla lost to Real Betis and Alaves in their first two Liga games under Montella but were lifted by a late fightback that saw them beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in their King’s Cup quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Montella’s side doubled their advantage against Espanyol in the 34th minute with a scorching run through the defence and a top corner finish by midfielder Sarabia.
Espanyol, who defeated city rivals Barcelona 1-0 in their King’s Cup firt leg in midweek, improved after the interval and should have pulled a goal back when Leo Baptistao received the ball unmarked from close range but sent it flying over the bar.
Sevilla’s Colombia forward Muriel netted the third goal in the 90th minute with an impressive run past three defenders in the box and a powerful finish.
Sevilla, who face Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, now have 32 points although Villarreal could climb back above them when they host Levante later on Saturday after second-placed Atletico host Girona.
Barcelona, who are nine points clear at the top, visit Real Betis on Sunday. (Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Ken Ferris)