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Sevilla lose ground to Madrid after draw at Espanyol

Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla stumbled again in the Spanish title race on Sunday as a 1-1 draw away at Espanyol left Real Madrid with a six-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Another slip means Sevilla have now won only once in their last five league games, allowing Madrid to maintain a commanding advantage, despite Carlo Ancelotti’s side suffering a dip in form themselves.

Rafa Mir put Sevilla in front at Cornella but Sergi Darder equalised for Espanyol early in the second half.

Sevilla’s pursuit of a winner was made harder by Jules Kounde being sent off with 14 minutes left, although Youssef En-Nesyri had a golden opportunity in injury time, only to see his finish saved.

Anthony Martial, who joined Sevilla on loan from Manchester United in January, went off injured in the first half and could now miss next weekend’s crunch derby at home to Real Betis.

Julen Lopetegui’s team still have to play Real Madrid at home in April, two weeks after visiting Barcelona at Camp Nou, but they are in danger of letting Madrid drift through the second half of the season, without a serious rival to challenge them.

Martial had to go off in the 26th minute and was replaced by Papu Gomez, who 10 minutes later provided the assist for Sevilla’s opener.

Diego Carlos started it by stepping into midfield to intercept before spraying a ball out to Gomez on the left. Gomez weaved inside and floated a cross to the back post, where Mir squeezed a finish inside the post.

Espanyol equalised shortly after half-time as Darder sent a superb header into the top corner from Oscar Gil’s cross and Sevilla’s problems grew when Kounde was sent off, the defender reacting petulantly to being grappled by Javi Puado.

Raul de Tomas almost snatched Espanyol a winner but his shot was excellently blocked by Diego Carlos before En-Nesyri sped clear for Sevilla, only to be denied by Diego Lopez.

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