Barça’s lead in danger after scoreless draw with Sevilla

Seville, Spain, Jun 19 (efe-epa).- Barcelona had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Sevilla here Friday, a result that leaves the Blaugrana in danger of being overtaken by archrivals Real Madrid atop LaLiga.

With 65 points, Barça are just 3 ahead of second-place Real Madrid, who have a game in hand.

A win on Sunday over Real Sociedad would bring the Blancos level on points with Barcelona and the capital side would claim the top spot by virtue of the head-to-head record.

Sevilla, meanwhile, are third with 52 points, 3 more than Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand.

Luis Suarez, playing the full 90 minutes for the first time since going down with an injury five months ago, made his mark early with a shot that posed no real test for Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

Jules Kounde sent a blast just wide of Barça keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal on a rare offensive foray by Sevilla in a match where the visitors had 68 percent possession.

Minutes later, Kounde shined at the other end of the pitch with a goal-line stop on a free kick by Lionel Messi, in pursuit of his 700th career goal.

Ever Banega came on for the home team at the start of the second half and the added creativity created chances for Lucas Ocampos and Munir El Haddadi, who each forced a stop from Ter Stegen.

Vaclik denied Messi on another free kick and Suarez sent a shot sailing over the cross-bar late in regulation moments before Sevilla’s Sergio Reguilon flubbed a chance inside the Barcelona area.

In Friday’s other action, Villarreal won for the third time in three outings since the LaLiga re-start, beating Granada 1-0 to climb to seventh place with 47 points from 30 matches, establishing themselves as contenders for a Champions League berth.

Villarreal are level on points with the two sides ahead of them, Getafe and Real Sociedad, but each of those teams has played one fewer match.

With 42 points, Granada are ninth and will need to improve if they expect to vie for a Europa League slot.

Granada started positively and Roberto Soldado forced a tremendous stop from visiting keeper Sergio Asenjo in the 3rd minute.

Eight minutes later, however, Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno received a long pass from defender Ruben Peña and beat keeper Rui Silva to put his side up 1-0.

Javier Ontiveros had a chance to make it 2-0, but his shot took a deflection off a Granada defender into the cross-bar.

Granada did not abandon their attacking approach and though they struggled to get deep, opportunities for the equalizer emerged. Yan Eteki’s strike went just wide and Asenjo denied Antonio Puertas.

The home team continued to press in the second half, as both Yangel Herrera and Darwin Machis tried their luck from distance before Villarreal’s Paco Alcacer failed to score into an empty net on a counter.

Santi Cazorla came on for Moreno with 10 minutes left in regulation to see out the match.

Friday’s other match was a relegation battle between 18th-place Mallorca and the worst team in LaLiga, Leganes, and the 1-1 result was of little value to either club.

The visitors began strongly, but it was Mallorca who claimed the early lead, as veteran Salva Sevilla surprised Leganes keeper Ivan Cuellar by sending the ball under the wall on a free kick to make it 10 in the 9th minute.

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