BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Levante struck early and relied on its staunch defense when reduced to 10 men to beat Osasuna 2-0 at home in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Levante's win extended its unbeaten streak to eight consecutive rounds and provisionally lifted it ahead of Sevilla and Valencia into seventh place.
First-year coach Joaquin Caparros had set the goal of avoiding relegation for Levante this season, but after 26 rounds the Mediterranean minnow is closer to earning a Europa League berth than worrying about the drop.
"My team is a pain to play against," said Caparros. "With 10 players we tripled our effort and (goalkeeper Keylor) Navas, with the way he is playing, kept us calm at the back.
"We can play better or worse, but this team always gives it its all. It's all soul."
Midfielder Papakouly Diop gave Levante the lead at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium just four minutes in when his long-range strike bounced past goalkeeper Andres Fernandez and inside the far post.
Forward Ruben Garcia doubled the hosts' advantage by fending off Damia Abella to control a long free kick before turning and firing the ball home.
Levante played the last half hour with 10 men after Victor Casadesus saw a direct red card for a hard tackle from behind on Alvaro Cejudo, but even though Osasuna finally mustered its first shot on goal it never threatened to come back.
"It's disheartening to play against Levante when they are ahead in the score," Osasuna coach Javi Gracia said.
Levante visits league leader Real Madrid in the next round.
Elsewhere, Elche beat Celta Vigo 1-0 thanks to a late goal by Carles Gil, Malaga drew 1-1 at home with Valladolid, and Getafe was held to 0-0 by visiting Espanyol.