Seville, Spain, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- Sevilla beat Mallorca 2-0 here Sunday to move closer to securing Champions League play in 2020-2021, while the visitors saw their already slim chances of avoiding relegation all but disappear.
After 36 matches, fourth-place Sevilla have 66 points, the same as Atletico Madrid, but the Colchoneros sit higher in the LaLiga table by virtue of a better goal difference.
Though Atleti could lose both of their last two games and still finish no lower than fourth, Sevilla’s situation is more complicated.
Fifth-place Villarreal have 57 points from 35 matches. If they were to take all 9 remaining points and Sevilla were to lose their matches, the two clubs would end the season level. At the moment, Sevilla has an edge on goal difference, but Villarreal has the better record head-to-head.
To nail down a top-four finish, Sevilla need to earn at least a point in their final two matches. Otherwise, they will have to count on Villarreal dropping points.
Both sides showed energy at the start of Sunday’s game at Seville’s Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium and the visitors’ high press created problems for the hosts.
Sevilla withstood the initial flurry from Mallorca and began to gain ground, but the first chance came only in the 32nd minute, when Fernando forced a stop from visiting goalkeeper Manolo Reina.
With five minutes left in the first half, VAR awarded the hosts a penalty after Alex Pozo – on loan to Mallorca from Sevilla – inadvertently got his hand in the way of a Sergio Reguilon header.
Lucas Ocampos converted to put Sevilla ahead 1-0 in the 41st minute.
The tenacious visiting squad generated chances in the second half. Defender Jules Kounde dealt with a dangerous Salva Sevilla free kick, while keeper Bono denied Cucho Hernandez and Aleksandar Trajkovski.
At the other end of the pitch, Pozo thwarted Oliver Torres and Munir El Haddadi failed to connect with a cross from Jesus Navas.
The margin was still just 1-0 in the 84th minute when Youssef En-Nesyri ran onto a well-placed deep ball from Bono and put it past Reina to put the contest to bed.
In Sunday’s other LaLiga action, Leganes beat Valencia 1-0 to go level on points with Mallorca at 32, 3 short of safety.
Ruben Perez converted a penalty in the 17th minute as Leganes went ahead of Mallorca into 18th place on better goal difference. Valencia are ninth with 50 points.
Athletic boosted their pursuit of a Europa League place by beating Levante 2-1 on Raul Garcia’s brace in the first half. Enis Bardhi clawed back a goal for the hosts in the 71st minute.
The outcome leaves Athletic in seventh with 51 points, the same as Real Sociedad, who have a game in hand, while Levante stay in 12th place with 43 points.
Already relegated Espanyol lost 2-0 at home to Eibar, who are 15th with 39 points, 4 above the drop zone. EFE