Sevilla maintain pressure on Madrid
January 22 2017 11:49 PM
Sevilla’s Vicente Iborra (right) and Pablo Sarabia celebrate after their team’s third goal during the Spanish La Liga match against Osasuna in Pamplona, Spain. (AFP)

AFP Madrid

Sevilla produced another late fightback to remain just one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid after twice coming from behind to edge out rock bottom Osasuna 4-3 yesterday.
However, Atletico Madrid lost further ground on the top three as they needed a spectacular Antoine Griezmann equaliser 10 minutes from time to secure a 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
Sevilla scored twice in the final five minutes to end Real Madrid’s 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions last weekend and have now won five of the seven La Liga games when they have conceded first this season.
“The team did some good things and made mistakes, but from start to finish looked to win the game,” said Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli. Victory also ensured Sevilla end the first half of the campaign with a record 42 points.
“To finish the first half of the season with a record number of points and be second fills us with excitement for what is to come,” added Sampaoli. Sergio Leon got across his marker to turn a low cross into the far post after just 15 minutes to give Osasuna a shock lead.
Iborra got the first of his unusual hat-trick two minutes before half-time as he followed up to sweep home Stevan Jovetic’s cross after his initial spectacular volley came back off the post. The Sevilla captain was the centre of attention early in the second-half as he inadvertantly deflected a cross looping over the head of Sergio Rico to briefly restore Osasuna’s lead before heading home at the other end to make amends two minutes later.
Osasuna were infuriated when Vazquez’s goal was allowed to stand despite a push on Oriol Riera to finally give Sevilla the lead. Indeed, so enraged were the hosts that the club released a statement after the match saying they will present a formal complaint to the Spanish football authorities over referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez’s display.
Sarabia’s fine left-footed shot from outside the area sealed the points, but there was still time for Osasuna to pull another goal back when Kenan Kodro headed in from close range. Victory takes Sevilla four points clear of Barcelona in second, but the champions can cut that gap back to one by winning at Eibar in a late match last night.
Atletico are now seven points back on Sevilla after sharing the spoils in a pulsating 2-2 draw in Bilbao. The visitors got off to the perfect start when Koke’s cross towards Griezmann evaded everyone and flew into the far corner after just three minutes.
However, Atletico were punished for trying to sit on their lead when Inigo Lekue smashed home an equaliser in off the underside of the bar three minutes before half-time. Athletic then went in front as former Atletico favourite Raul Garcia crossed for Oscar de Marcos to head home.
Griezmann had already had one spectacular finish ruled out by the offside flag, but the French international continued his fine form with a rasping low drive from 25 yards to at least salvage a point for Diego Simeone’s men.

Osasuna 3 (Leon 15, Iborra 63-og, Kodro 90+3) Sevilla 4 (Iborra 43, 65, Vazquez 80, Sarabia 90+2); Athletic Bilbao 2 (Lekue 42, De Marcos 56) Atletico Madrid 2 (Koke 3, Griezmann 80)
Played Saturday: Espanyol 3 (Reyes 10, Piatti 32, Navarro 48) Granada 1 (Pereira 23); Real Madrid 2 (Ramos 35, 43) Malaga 1 (Juanpi 63); Alaves 2 (Laguardia 11, Edgar 51) Leganes 2 (Guerrero 45, Insua 84); Villarreal 0 Valencia 2 (Soler 35, Mina 42)
Friday: Las Palmas 1 (García 13) Deportivo La Coruna 1 (Andone 69)

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