Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla put themselves back in pole position to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as goals either side of half-time from Clement Lenglet and Ever Banega secured a nervy 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.
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.
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.
Nolito’s drive from a narrow angle was parried by Aleksandr Selikhov before the former Manchester City frontman’s lobbed volley dipped onto the roof of the net.
Eduardo 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.
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 free-kick 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 12 minutes from time 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.