MADRID (AP) — Paulo Henrique Ganso scored twice in his first start in more than three months to help Sevilla beat struggling Granada 2-0 in the Spanish league on Friday.
Ganso, the promising Brazilian midfielder who was yet to break through since joining the Spanish club this season, opened the scoring with a shot from inside the area less than five minutes into the match and increased the lead from close range shortly after halftime at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.
The victory moved Sevilla level on points with third-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Espanyol on Saturday. Third place automatically guarantees a Champions League spot next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.
"We will keep fighting until the end, match by match," Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "We need to keep adding points and see if Atletico falters."
Granada, winless in eight matches, stayed second-to-last in the 20-team standings, seven points from safety with five matches to go.
"Mathematically we still haven't been relegated so it's our obligation to give our lives in every match," Granada defender David Lomban said. "We need to do that for the fans, for the people of Granada. Of course it's difficult, but we must give everything we have until the final day."
It was Granada's second game with former Arsenal captain Tony Adams at the helm.
"We are in a very difficult situation," Adams said. "The goals early in each half hurt us a lot."
It was only the second time Ganso had scored for Sevilla. The other goal had come in a 9-1 rout of fourth-division club Formentera in the Copa del Rey last year.
Ganso hadn't started since a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid in a Copa del Rey match in January. He has played in only 13 games this season.
The talented playmaker thrived alongside Neymar with Brazilian club Santos, with many in Brazil saying that they had the same potential to succeed in European soccer.
But Ganso never reached the same stardom as Neymar and remained playing for Brazilian clubs until Sampaoli signed him from Sao Paulo for about 10 million euros ($10.7 million).
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Brazilian player when he arrived in Seville but he was never able to establish himself as a starter under the Argentine coach.
League leader Madrid hosts second-place Barcelona on Sunday. Madrid, seeking its first league title since 2012, is three points in front of the Catalan club, a two-time defending champion.
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