Sevilla drew 0-0 at Valencia on Sunday as they continue to fade in its bid for an automatic Champions League berth.
Sevilla were mounting an outside challenge for the Spanish title through the first seven months of the season, but its goal now is just to secure a place in Europe’s top competition for next season.
The draw meant fourth-placed Sevilla fell three points behind third-placed Atletico Madrid, who beat Osasuna 3-0 on Saturday.
Sevilla have only one win in its last seven league matches, a slump that overlapped with its elimination by Leicester from the Champions League Round of 16.
The decline has also coincided with rumors regarding the future of coach Jorge Sampaoli, who tried to quash speculation this week that he was linked to the newly vacated job in charge of the Argentine national team.
The closest Sevilla went to scoring at Mestalla Stadium was when substitute Stevan Jovetic hit the post in the 17th minute, shortly after he replaced injured Victor “Vitolo” Machin.
Valencia likewise mustered very little beyond a header by Munir El Haddadi that Sevilla back Mariano cleared from his goal line before half an hour was up.
Nani returned to the pitch for Valencia as a late substitute in his first match since recovering from a muscle injury that had sidelined him for almost two months.
The draw ended Valencia’s streak of three consecutive victories, but extended its unbeaten run at home to seven matches under caretaker coach Salvador “Voro” Gonzalez.
The top three finishers in la Liga go directly to the next season’s Champions League, while the fourth-placed team faces a playoff to join the group phase.
LEGANES 0, ESPANYOL 1
Substitute Leo Baptistao scored a stoppage-time goal to keep Espanyol in the running for a Europa League berth.
The Brazilian forward returned in the last round after a heel injury had sidelined him for four months.
Baptistao scored the winner by starting a counterattack with Gerard Moreno before chipping Leganes goalkeeper Iago Herrerin.
Leganes was left clinging to the last spot above the relegation zone.