Sevilla practically seal top-four finish in Champions League

first_imgMADRID: Sevilla closed in on Champions League qualification by beating struggling Real Mallorca 2-0 at home to open up a nine-point gap in the race for fourth spot in La Liga. Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring with a first-half penalty while Youssef En Nesyri sealed the victory late on, latching on to a long punt from goalkeeper Bono and barging past a defender to lift the ball over Mallorca keeper Manolo Reina. Sevilla have 66 points after 36 games and will clinch their return to Europe’s premier competition after a two-year absence if Villarreal, who have 57, fail to beat Real Sociedad on Monday. Mallorca are 19th on 32 and will need to earn at least four points in their final two games if they are to stand a chance of staying in the top-flight, as they trail 17th-placed Alaves by three points and have an inferior head-to-head record. The result also meant Eibar sealed their top-flight status after beating relegated Espanyol 2-0 away from home earlier on, while 14th-placed Real Valladolid are now also safe on 39 points. They were beaten 1-0 by Barcelona on Saturday. Edu Exposito scored both goals to earn Eibar their first win in four matches which took them to 15th in the standings on 39 points, seven above the relegation zone. Elsewhere, Leganes lived to fight another day in La Liga, riding their luck in a 1-0 win at home to Valencia after playing most of the second half with 10 men and seeing their opponents squander a penalty. Midfielder Ruben Perez put the Madrid minnows in front in the 18th minute from the penalty spot, scoring his first goal since 2013. But his side suffered a setback when Jonathan Silva was shown a straight red card in the 54th. Valencia earned a penalty soon after following a handball by Leganes’ Rodrigo Tarin, but captain Dani Parejo’s spot-kick was beaten away by goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar and Leganes somehow clung on to record a first home victory since February. Defeat would have condemned Leganes to relegation, while the win saw them instead move up to 18th place in the standings on 32 points with two games remaining, three points behind 17th-placed Alaves who have a game in hand. Valencia are ninth on 50 points. Also on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao won 2-1 away to Levante thanks to two goals from Raul Garcia to move into seventh place, the final Europa League berth, on 51 points. Agencies Also Watch: High Court Rejects BPF Plea Against Governor’s Ruled In BTADlast_img read more