10-man Sevilla keep Barca at bay

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​Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla failed to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga (LL) as they dropped points at home for only the second time this campaign, hanging on to draw 1-1 with Barcelona after Jules Koundé saw red.

The hosts entered the match with a 10 point advantage over Barcelona, their highest in LL since gameweek 12 of the 1950/51 campaign. Rafa Mir thought he had put Sevilla ahead after 21 minutes, excellently taking down a ball over the top from Fernando and curling around Marc-André ter Stegen, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Afterwards, ‘La Blaugrana’ quickly became overwhelmed, and with 30 minutes on the clock switched off at a corner, allowing Papu Gómez to run across the box to meet a deceiving low ball and finish low into the bottom left corner. Without a win against the Catalan side in LL since October 2015, however, ‘Los Nervionenses’ failed to build on their lead, conceding from a corner themselves as Ronald Araújo headed in on the stroke of HT.

This gave Barcelona confidence in their attempt to go four matches unbeaten on the road in LL, a job that was only made easier when Koundé was shown a straight red card with 26 minutes left. The French defender responded angrily to a nudge from Jordi Alba, throwing the ball at the Spaniard’s head and giving referee Carlos del Cerro Grande no other option. Xavi’s side required an 85th-minute winner in their last LL outing, and threw everything they had at the hosts’ goal in their search for another late winner.

Ousmane Dembélé struck the post with a curling effort from the edge of the box that left Bono flailing, but ultimately were unable to force a way through their opponents. Sevilla remain second, although failure to overcome their bogey team sees them fall five points behind Real Madrid. Barcelona will also rue their missed opportunity to move into fifth, and instead settle for seventh.

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