Madrid (AFP) – A depleted Sevilla were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia on Wednesday, leaving Real Madrid four points clear at the top of La Liga.

Sevilla had the chance to close the gap to two points by winning their game in hand at Mestalla but Goncalo Guedes’ equaliser on the stroke of half-time earned Valencia a share of the spoils. A Mouctar Diakhaby own goal had given Sevilla an early lead.

The result means Madrid still have a strong advantage at the top of the table while Valencia move up to ninth, now only three points behind Barcelona in sixth, albeit having played a game more.

Sevilla were without their coach Julen Lopetegui, who the club said was showing Covid-like symptoms earlier on Wednesday, while six players were out through injury, including Jules Kounde and Jesus Navas.

Yet the visitors made the perfect start when Diakhaby turned in Gonzalo Montiel’s cross in the seventh minute in an attempt to prevent Rafa Mir tapping in at the back post.

Mir almost made it two but struck the post after bustling through down the left and instead Valencia equalised a minute before half-time.

Hugo Guillamon spread the ball left and Jose Gaya’s excellent cross found Guedes, who nipped in front of Marcos Acuna and nodded in.