Seville, Spain, Jun 26 (efe-epa).- Sevilla needed a late goal from the penalty spot here Friday to salvage a 1-1 draw with Real Valladolid in the opening contest of LaLiga Match Day 32.
The hosts hold onto fourth place, the final Champions League berth, but with a lead of just 5 points over Getafe, who have a game in hand.
And though taking a point away against a top team is a respectable result, only 3 points separate 14th-place Valladolid from Eibar in the 17th spot.
Sevilla posted three consecutive draws after a derby victory over Real Betis in their first match following the three-month pandemic layoff and Friday’s game with a team from the bottom half of the table seemed an ideal opportunity to put one in the win column.
But in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui stressed his respect for a Valladolid side that has performed well against rivals the caliber of Atletico Madrid and Getafe.
Valladolid, anxious to secure their continued presence in the top flight, showed ambition from the start and put pressure on the hosts.
Sevilla had the first solid opportunity, a charge down the right side by Jesus Navas culminating in a Lucas Ocampos strike around the 15-minute mark.
While the visitors did not wilt, they largely ceded the initiative to the home side for an extended stretch, as Ever Banega took command in midfield.
Ocampos tried his luck from distance with a shot that hit the woodwork and Sevilla looked a safe bet to score first until Valladolid’s Kiko Olivas caught defenders napping on a set piece and made it 1-0 for the visitors in the 25th minute, moments before the obligatory hydration break.
From that point until the end of the first half, Valladolid played with confidence against a home side in obvious disarray.
Lopetegui made a double-substitution to start the second half, pulling Fernando – already on a yellow card – in favor of Joan Jordan and replacing Luuk de Jong with Suso.
With 75 percent possession, Sevilla dominated, but the apparent equalizer from Munir El Haddadi in the 55th minute was disallowed when VAR spotted an offside by an attacking player.
Sevilla continued to trail as the match clock moved past 80 minutes, but VAR came to their rescue by detecting a Valladolid hand-ball and Ocampos converted from the penalty spot to level the contest at 1-1.
The hosts spent the remaining seven minutes of regulation and the five minutes tacked on by the referee in frantic pursuit of the match-winner. Yet only a good stop by Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik against Ruben Alcaraz prevented Valladolid from stealing all 3 points. EFE agr/dr