MADRID, Nov 2 — Sevilla put themselves back in pole position to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as goals either side of halftime from Clement Lenglet and Ever Banega secured a nervy 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow yesterday.
Victory moves Sevilla back above the Russians in Group E on seven points to Spartak’s five with Liverpool in top spot on eight points after their 3-0 win over Maribor at Anfield.
However, the Spaniards were made to sweat in the final stages after Ze Luis pulled a goal back for Spartak 12 minutes from time.
“We played 75 great minutes against a difficult opponent and we deserved to end the game a lot calmer than we did,” Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo told BeIN Sports Spain.
Smarting from a 5-1 thrashing in Moscow two weeks ago, Sevilla needed to win to keep their Champions League fate in their own hands.
The hosts started like the more needy side and should have been in front after just two minutes when Banega dragged Pablo Sarabia’s fine through ball.
Sarabia on the right and Nolito on the left posed a constant threat in the opening stages, but often Sevilla’s final ball let them down.
Berizzo’s side needed a set-piece to break the Russian’s resistance on the half hour mark as Lenglet rose highest to power home Banega’s corner despite Selikhov getting a hand to his header.
“We have two games left to qualify but this is an important step,” said Lenglet.
“We could have scored a third goal and after we conceded it is much more difficult to defend when the opponent is looking to get the second to equalise, but for 70 minutes we played at a very high level.”
Going behind brought the visitors out of their shell and they would have levelled with their first attempt on goal but for a stunning save from Sergio Rico low to his left to turn Fernando’s freekick behind.
Spartak pressed much higher up the field after the break, but that only resulted in handing Sevilla far more space to break into and Nolito should have scored when he dragged his shot inches wide after one long ball took out the Spartak defence.
Sevilla looked to have made the game safe just before the hour mark when Banega curled a fine effort from the edge of the area into the top corner.
Wissam Ben Yedder couldn’t have come much closer to adding a third when he prodded Nolito’s cross goalwards only for goal line technology to decide the whole ball hadn’t crossed the line by the finest of margins before it was scooped away by a Spartak defender.
That intervention became even more important when Ze Luis brought the visitors back into the game when he swept home on the rebound after Rico had denied Glushakov.
But on a poor week for Spanish clubs in Champions League action as Real Madrid fell to defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona drew a blank away to Olympiakos and Atletico Madrid look set to crash out after being held by Qarabag, Sevilla held on to salvage some pride for La Liga. — AFP