A wasted penalty. A goal disallowed for offside. An inspired goalkeeper. It all led to another disappointing setback for Sevilla, which was held by Villarreal to a 0-0 draw at home on Sunday and missed a chance to move closer to the Spanish league lead.
Samir Nasri failed from the penalty spot in the 49th minute, Wissam Ben Yedder had his goal disallowed for offside in the 59th, and Vicente Iborra’s close-range header was brilliantly saved by Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo in the 82nd, stopping Sevilla from gaining much ground in the standings.
The result left Sevilla in third place with 43 points, two behind Barcelona and three behind leader Real Madrid. Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao 3-0 on Saturday, while Madrid had its Sunday game at Celta Vigo postponed because of wind damage to Celta’s Balaidos Stadium. Madrid will have two games in hand over Barcelona and Sevilla after this weekend’s matches.
“It’s frustrating to lose these two points,” Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “We played up front from the start and we tried to score the goal until the last minute. We deserved a better result.”
Sevilla was coming off a 3-1 loss at Espanyol, a result that halted its five-game winning streak in the league, which revived its hopes of contending for the title.
Villarreal, which lost only once in its last eight league games, is sixth with 35 points.
“Sometimes things go your way. We earned a point in a very difficult field against a Sevilla team that pressures a lot,” Asenjo said. “We played a very complete game and I’m very happy with the outcome. Credit goes to these 10 `beasts’ that I have as teammates.”
Asenjo was crucial for Villarreal’s draw at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.
In addition to guessing right in stopping Nasri’s penalty kick, he made two superb saves from close-range headers, one in each half. The most spectacular save came after Iborra’s attempt near the end, when Asenjo outstretched his right arm to reach the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
“We created a lot of scoring chances,” Sevilla defender Adil Rami said. “Their goalkeeper must be very happy because he alone salvaged a point for his team. For us this point is not good.”
Forward Adrian Lopez had a couple of clear chances for Villarreal, also one in each half, but failed to capitalize on them.
Ben Yedder’s goal was disallowed in a very close call for offside not long after Nasri’s missed penalty.
The league has to set a date for the match between Celta and Madrid, which was called off after Vigo officials said they could not guarantee the “safety of spectators and players” after winds tore off parts of the roof at Balaidos Stadium.
There are few dates available to reschedule the game, as Madrid is still playing in the Champions League and Celta in the Copa del Rey.
Madrid also still has to play a league game at Valencia after it was postponed because of Madrid’s participation in FIFA’s Club World Cup in December.
On Friday, bad weather in northwestern Spain forced the postponement of the match between Deportivo La Coruna and Real Betis. Deportivo’s Riazor Stadium also was damaged by heavy winds.
REAL SOCIEDAD 3, OSASUNA 2
Real Sociedad scored three goals in 15 minutes in the second half to secure victory over Osasuna.
Second-to-last Osasuna saw its winless streak reach 13 league matches.
Sociedad is fifth in the league.
SPORTING GIJON 2, ALAVES 4
Promoted Alaves cruised to victory at struggling Sporting Gijon despite playing without most of its regular starters ahead of this week’s Copa del Rey semifinal against Celta Vigo.
Sporting, winless in seven consecutive league games, remained in the relegation zone.