In-form Sevilla beat Osasuna to stake claim in title race
February 23 2021 11:58 PM
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Sevilla
Sevilla’s Karim Rekik (right) vies for the ball with Osasuna’s Kike Barja during the La Liga match in Pamplona, Spain, on Monday night. (AFP)

Reuters/Sevilla, Spain

Sevilla’s Diego Carlos and Luuk de Jong got on the scoresheet to secure a fifth La Liga win in a row as their side enjoyed a 2-0 victory at Osasuna on Monday night to move above Barcelona into third place and join the title race.
Osasuna defender Oier Sanrujo almost got the hosts off to a perfect start when he sent a header crashing against the post in the opening minutes but it was Sevilla’s Brazilian defender Diego Carlos who broke the deadlock.
The Spaniard outjumped two Osasuna players to meet an out-swinging corner from Joan Jordan and his header had too much power for goalkeeper Sergio Herrera to keep out. De Jong put the visitors further ahead early in the second half with a backheel to guide a low cross from Munir El Haddadi into the net, while substitute Papu Gomez nearly added a third late on but was denied by Herrera.
It was a welcome victory for Sevilla after their 3-2 home defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last-16, first leg last week and saw them move to 48 points, one point ahead of Barca who drew 1-1 at home to Cadiz on Sunday.
They took advantage of Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 defeat by Levante on Saturday to close the gap with the leaders to seven points with 15 games left, adding more intrigue to a title race which looked like a forgone conclusion less than a month ago.
Sevilla are also four points behind second-placed Real Madrid, with a game in hand. “We played well in every aspect, we were solid defensively against a team that plays with a lot of intensity and pace while not altering our usual attacking style,” said Lopetegui. “Apart from their early clear chance, we were superior to them throughout the game.”
Sevilla now turn their attentions to a double header with Barcelona, hosting the Catalans in La Liga next Saturday with a chance to go four points above them. They then head to the Camp Nou for a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Wednesday, holding a commanding 2-0 lead.
Lopetegui was not interested in discussing his side’s title credentials but said fans should feel free to entertain the prospect of a tilt. “We have a limited amount of energy and we have to dedicate it all to thinking about our next game. Today was very tough and now we have to think about facing Barcelona. But it’s not my place to tell people how they should feel about that.” 


Barca unable to see out games due to fear: Koeman
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said his side lack confidence when they have only a narrow lead in matches and must focus more on killing off their opponents and seeing out wins. Barca drew 1-1 at home to Cadiz in their last league outing despite having 81% possession and only conceding one shot before giving away a late penalty due to a foul by defender Clement Lenglet.
“We perhaps are a little scared when we only have a one goal advantage, it has happened to us before,” Koeman told a news conference ahead of today’s La Liga match at home to Elche.
“We had lots of possession, lots of chances, but in the end we drew 1-1. But I also have to say we’ve had a lot of bad luck and it’s not fair. Opponents always seem to score against us when they have very few chances.”
Barca lost the Spanish Super Cup final 3-2 last month after leading 2-1 in the 90th minute, while they drew 2-2 with Valencia in December from a winning position in the second half. “We don’t have any problems in creating chances but we have to ask for our forwards to be more effective. We’ve created a lot of opportunities this season, our scoring rate is far too low for a team like Barca,” he added.
The Dutchman also said he has tried to raise the spirits of Lenglet, who was seen in tears when driving home from Sunday’s match after his foul cost the team two points.
“I spoke with him about it this morning. He’s a serious guy, a great professional and has taken this very personally. He certainly could have done better with that play and he has been partly responsible for some of the errors.”



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