Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla moved to the brink of qualification for the Champions League last 16 for the first time in six years with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Dinamo Zagreb at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
Luciano Vietto’s 31st-minute opener put Sevilla in control and Zagreb’s hopes of ending a 10-game losing run on the road in the Champions League evaporated when Petar Stojanovic was shown a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time.
Sergio Escudero, Steven N’Zonzi and Wissam Ben Yedder extended Sevilla’s advantage in the final 24 minutes as Jorge Sampaoli’s men moved to the top of Group H.
A late Lyon equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Juventus prevented Sevilla from mathematically qualifying, but they need just a point from their final two games to reach the knockout phase.
Sampaoli was disappointed not to have sealed qualification, but insists Sevilla have little to worry about if they maintain their fine form so far this season.
“It makes it more difficult for us, but we have to face up to (the last two games) with the same strength we showed today,” said the diminutive Argentine coach.
“We are going to fight for every point with gritted teeth.”
Without the injured Samir Nasri, Sampaoli handed a rare start to Brazilian playmaker Ganso and he shone as Sevilla dominated from start to finish.
“After so long without playing, he had a great game,” added Sampaoli.
“He allowed us to have a player with a great eye for the final pass.”
Vietto continued his fine form as he controlled a low cross from the left and his effort from a narrow angle had too much power for Dinamo ‘keeper Dominik Livakovic.
Zagreb have yet to pick up a point in four games and their mission became one of damage limitation once Stojanovic saw red just before the break.
It took Sevilla over 20 minutes to make their numerical advantage count, but the goals began to flow once Escudero exchanged a one-two with Vitolo before firing into the far corner.
N’Zonzi’s towering header from Pablo Sarabia’s corner added a third before Ben Yedder rounded off a fine team move to rub salt in Zagreb’s wounds.
Sevilla have still to concede a goal in the Champions League and can beat Juventus to top spot in the group with victory over the Italian champions on home soil in three weeks’ time.