Barça battle to 1-1 draw with Sevilla

Sports Desk, Dec 21 (EFE).- Barcelona came into Tuesday’s match against Sevilla with a chance to vault from seventh to fifth place in LaLiga, while the hosts were hoping to narrow the gap to leaders Real Madrid, but the sides ended up splitting the points after a hard-fought contest.

Barça, who had nearly 60 percent possession and outshot the hosts 22-5, failed to capitalize on playing the last 25 minutes plus stoppage time with the man advantage after Jules Kounde picked up a red card for a petulant outburst.

After setting the pace in the opening minutes, the Catalan squad went behind in the 32nd minute.

Former Barcelona man Ivan Rakitic delivered a perfectly placed corner into the box, where Papu Gomez was waiting to beat goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a low blast.

Ronald Araujo equalized for Barça in the final minute of first-half regulation, heading in from the near post off Ousmane Dembele’s corner kick.

Sevilla showed more ambition in the second half and did a better job of keeping Barcelona attackers away from keeper Yassine Bounou.

Yet the hosts’ prospects for taking all 3 points largely evaporated in the 64th minute when Kounde reacted to a bump from Jordi Alba by throwing the ball in his opponent’s face.

Sevilla defended well and Bounou saved a potential match-winner from Alba in the 97th minute.

The result leaves Sevilla on 38 points, 5 behind Real Madrid. Barcelona remain seventh in the table with 28 points. EFE cc/dr

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