Sevilla stifle Barca

Barcelona’s lead over Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division is down to five points after they were held 1-1 by Sevilla in a thrilling contest at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan this evening.

Barcelona’s lead over Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division is down to five points after they were held 1-1 by Sevilla in a thrilling contest at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan this evening.

La Liga’s reigning champions extended their unbeaten sequence in the Primera Division to 27 matches but this slip-up, combined with Real’s victory over Hercules on Saturday, has made the title race a little closer.

Bojan Krkic gave Barca the lead on the half-hour mark on what was Pep Guardiola’s 1,000th day in charge of the club, before Lionel Messi gave his boss a scare when he stayed down after a challenge with Sevilla goalkeeper Javi Varas on the stroke of half-time. The Argentinian superstar was fortunately back on his feet and out on the field for the second half.

Sevilla drew level early in the second period thanks to a Jesus Navas header after Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes had been pulled out of position, and from then on the game was stretched with chances at either end. Andres Iniesta was particularly unlucky, hitting the crossbar with five minutes left and then having another effort cleared off the line by Gary Medel.

Nine-man Sporting Gijon claimed a remarkable late draw against Villarreal thanks to an injury-time penalty from Diego Castro.

Villarreal looked set to put their poor recent domestic form behind them as they took a 29th-minute lead through free-scoring striker Giuseppe Rossi before then seeing Sporting lose defenders Jose Angel (65 minutes) and Rafael Sastre (90) to red cards.

However, there was a late twist in the tale as struggling Sporting claimed a dramatic last-gasp equaliser from Castro, who showed remarkable composure and self-assurance in the circumstances to chip his spot-kick down the centre of the goal.

The result means Villarreal missed the chance to move to within one point of third-placed Valencia at the top of the standings, and leaves the Yellow Submarine with just one win from their last seven league games.

Espanyol returned to winning ways in the Primera Division this evening with a 2-0 win at home to 10-man Deportivo La Coruna to climb to fifth in the table.

The Barcelona-based side had lost six of their last seven league matches and were unable to find a way past Deportivo early on, but their task was made easier when Pablo Alvarez was shown a second yellow card minutes before half-time.

The home team dominated after that and took the points thanks to fine goals from Ivan Alonso and Joan Verdu in the final half an hour and moved two points above Athletic Bilbao with the win, with the Basque side away to Getafe tomorrow night.

Real Mallorca’s unlikely push for Europe suffered another setback as they were held 1-1 by in-form Levante.

Juanlu put the hosts in front seven minutes before half-time, but Ivan Ramis’ superb free-kick drew Mallorca level early in the second half.

Malaga boosted their hopes of Primera Division survival with a plucky win at Real Sociedad this evening.

The Andalusians rode their luck at times, but took all three points thanks to a goal in each half from Duda and Salomon Rondon. And although they remain bottom of the table with 10 rounds of the championship remaining, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are now level on points with both Almeria and Hercules.

Ten-man Osasuna gave their hopes of survival another boost as they followed up last week’s away win over Malaga with their first victory over northern rivals Racing Santander since 2005 today.

Two goals in five first-half minutes from Kike Sola and Javad Nekounam set Osasuna on their way and Fernando Soriano made it 3-0 in the 49th minute.

Racing pulled a goal back almost immediately through Markus Rosenberg and the Cantabrian side received a further boost 15 minutes from time when Osasuna midfielder Soriano was sent off after picking up a second caution.

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