Sevilla 2-0 Athletic Club: Montella’s men stay in touch with Champions League placesMarch 3, 2018
Two goals in the space of five minutes from Luis Muriel and Franco Vazquez put Sevilla back in the hunt for the final Champions League spot, while defeat leaves Athletic Club lodged in mid-table.
Five points momentarily separates Sevilla from fourth place Valencia who take on Real Betis Sunday evening.
Rojiblancos have now achieved 12 points from a possible 15 and have fully recovered from their league defeat to Atletico Madrid six days ago.
Head coach Vincenzo Montella made five changes to the side that overcame Malaga midweek while his opposite number Jose Angel Ziganda appeared to field a weakened team.
The Basque club rested key starters Raul Garcia, Aritz Aduriz and Benat Etxebarria as they look to take the initiative in their first leg Europa League last 16 tie against Marseille.
Although the visitors had the game’s opening opportunity through Inaki Williams who could not find the target, it was Sevilla who looked the more lively.
Joaquin Correa caused problems throughout and came close early on before Ever Banega let fly from 20 yards out to see his effort go just over.
Pablo Sarabia almost broke the deadlock not long after but for Kepa Arrizabalaga preventing him at his near post.
Sevilla’s dominance showed throughout and Muriel was unlucky not to open the scoring sooner, the striker saw his headed effort cannon back off the crossbar following a superb Vazquez cross.
Although the Columbian did not have to wait long to make amends, in the 27th minute Vazquez again found Muriel, this time with a much tighter angle at goal, his fierce strike flew in to end a run of seven games without a goal.
It took Sevilla a matter of five minutes to widen their deficit, Steven N’Zonzi dispatched a cross into the path of Vazquez who headed home.
Ziganda, looking for a reaction, made a triple substitution in the second-half yet the change made no difference.
Los Nervionenses’ were in control and saw the game out comfortably and will now cast their eyes on what could be two season defining games.
First they host fourth place Valencia on Saturday before travelling to Manchester for their second leg Champions League round of 16 clash against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Sevilla: Sergio Rico, Layún, Mercado, Lengle, Escudero, NZonzi, Banega, Franco Vázquez, Sarabia, Correa, Muriel
Subs: Pizarro, Nolito, Kjaer
Athletic Club: Kepa, Lekue, Yeray, Iñigo Martínez, Saborit, San José, Iturraspe, Susaeta, Mikel Vesga, Córdoba,Williams.
Subs: Aduriz, Benat, Raul Garcia