BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Sevilla scored twice in the second half to win 2-0 at Elche and rise into second place in the Spanish league after Deportivo La Coruna beat Valencia 3-0 to hand the visitor its first defeat of the season on Sunday.
Sevilla took control of a drab match with goals by Carlos Bacca and substitute Kevin Gameiro to move past third-place Real Madrid and Valencia and pull to within three points of leader Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid brushed aside Espanyol 2-0 to extend its unbeaten home streak in the league to 24 games and sit behind Valencia in fifth place on goal difference.
The eighth round left five points separating the league's top five sides before Barcelona visits Madrid next weekend in the first "clasico" match of the season.
Also, striker Ikechuwku Uche scored once in each half to lead Villarreal to a 2-0 victory at home over Almeria, lifting it into sixth place.
Bacca recorded his team-high sixth goal of the campaign in the 59th minute when he put in a rebound of Gerard Deulofeu's free kick.
Gameiro went on in the 61st and 12 minutes later raced forward to head in Denis Suarez's well-placed cross to secure the points for Sevilla.
"We didn't play well in the first half because we weren't playing as a group, but in the second half we corrected those errors," said Sevilla coach Unai Emery. "If they had done something more in the first half we would have been in trouble."
But Elche never threatened and fell into the relegation zone with only one win.
Deportivo entered the round in last place after losing four straight games. In need of a victory, first-year coach Victor Fernandez revamped his starting 11 with several changes.
The decision worked and Deportivo outplayed Valencia throughout, pressuring up the pitch and never letting its midfield connect with striker Paco Alcacer.
Haris Medunjanin almost put Deportivo ahead with a free kick that hit the crossbar and bounced off the back of goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez's head before falling outside the upright.
But the resulting corner kick gave the hosts the lead in the 36th when the ball eventually went in after ricocheting off Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi, the bar and fellow defender Jose Gaya's arm.
Lucas Perez took Deportivo's second goal in the 43rd to cap a perfect debut for his hometown team at the age of 26. Striker Ivan Cavaleiro headed the ball on for the forward to fire in off the far post.
Valencia manager Nuno Espirito Santo made two changes at halftime, but the closest his team would come to scoring was Antonio Barragan's deflected pass that found the post before Deportivo substitute Jose Toche put the result beyond doubt on the break in the 79th.
"We had a bad day," said Espirito Santo. "When you see a game like this you have to sit down, work harder and be firmer. We have to respond in our next game. A team that wants to qualify for the Champions League can't lose back-to-back matches."
Valencia's loss left Barcelona as the only unbeaten team through eight rounds.
Atletico limited Espanyol to one shot on goal and earned 12 corners to just one for the overmatched visitors.
Goalie Miguel Moya saved Espanyol's sole chance by Lucas Vazquez in the 13th, and midfielder Tiago Cardoso put Atletico ahead in the 43rd when he floated a header over keeper Kiko Casilla from Gabi Fernandez's pass.
Atletico has excelled at set pieces under coach Diego Simeone and finished off Espanyol with a corner kick in the 71st, which was headed on by center backs Diego Godin and Jose Jimenez before Mario Suarez tapped the ball in.
Atletico has scored 10 of its 14 league goals from set pieces, with nine of its goals coming from headers.
"My team played the game it had to play, controlling the pace of the match and our rival throughout," Simeone said. "We attacked constantly and were patient until the first goal arrived and dominated the second half."
Espanyol's first loss in five rounds left it in the middle of the table. The team lost forward Sergio Garcia to an apparent leg injury.
Atletico's last league loss at the Vicente Calderon Stadium was in May 2013.
Uche scored rebounds in the 23rd and 59th for Villarreal.