Sevilla build on Europa League triumph with Osasuna victory
Sevilla built on their dramatic Europa League triumph over Real Betis in mid-week by comfortably beating Osasuna away from home.
Jairo Samperio opened the scoring midway through the first half with a fine individual goal, and Carlos Bacca doubled the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time in a highly controversial incident, which saw Osasuna coach Javi Gracia sent away from his dugout for protesting the decision.
Javier Acuna scored a fine goal for Osasuna in injury time, but it only served as a consolation for the Navarrans.
The victory sees Sevilla move on to 47 points and cement their bid to qualify for Europe again, while Osasuna, on 29 points, remain in danger of relegation.
Sevilla boss Unai Emery criticized the decision to play the game just 60 hours after his players had run themselves into the ground to defeat Betis on penalties, but the visitors showed few signs they were still feeling the effects of their exertions, playing with far more intensity than Osasuna.
Jairo broke the deadlock on 27 minutes, receiving the ball on the right wing, cutting into the area and turning a defender before striking a low shot into the bottom corner of the near post.
Fabricio Fazio then nearly scored a second, heading just over the bar and onto the roof of the net after reaching a cross before Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez could.
The game then began to slip away from Osasuna’s grasp in three frantic minutes at the close of the first half. First Damia Abella came agonizingly close to equalizing, arriving at the far post to volley just wide of the near post. Sevilla then launched an attack, Vitolo racing past Osasuna players down the right wing and then squaring to Jairo, who had an open goal to aim at.
However, the winger inexplicably struck the crossbar, holding his head in his hands in despair at the miss. His blushes were saved when the referee gave a penalty a couple of seconds later, Damia falling to the floor after clashing with Vitolo, his hands landing on the ball as he hit the ground. Osasuna insisted Vitolo had fouled Damia, but the decision stood, and Bacca sent Andres Fernandez the wrong way to score.
Sevilla goalkeeper Beto was substituted at half-time and replaced by Javi Vargas, whose first task was to prevent Bacca from scoring an own goal, tipping a header from the Colombian over the bar following an Osasuna free-kick.
Bacca then had three chances to score at the correct end in the space of four minutes, but squandered them all, first sending the ball over the bar, then hitting the outside of the post, and then denied by Fernandez.
Osasuna were unable to create many chances of note until Acuna dribbled from the corner flag into the box and past three defenders to blast into the net, but the goal, coming in the 94th minute, had arrived too late to impact on the result.
Later, Javi Fuego netted a first-half brace as Valencia got back to winning ways in the Primera Division with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal at the Mestalla.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side, who cruised into the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 4-0 aggregate win over Ludogorets on Thursday, ended a three-match winless streak in the league on Sunday, moving up two places into eighth as a result.
The defeat saw derby rivals Villarreal, who scored a late consolation through Giovani dos Santos, move down a place into seventh in the standings.
The home side started strongest and could have taken the lead had Federico Cartabia’s close-range header been on target.
It did not take long for Villarreal to come into the game and Tomas Pina was unlucky his effort from the right of the penalty box sailed past the Valencia goal.
The home side lost Diego Alves to injury after 20 minutes and he was replaced by Vicente Guaita as the home side pressed forward.
Fifteen minutes later Fuego broke the deadlock for Los Che with a beautiful curled effort from just outside the 18-yard box, beating Sergio Asenjo to hand his side the lead.
And the 30-year-old midfielder struck again just before the break as he volleyed home from close range, sending his low shot into the back of the net.
The second half took a while to get going and Oliver Torres could have pulled a goal back for the visitors 10 minutes in but his effort from the edge of the box went wide.
Juan Bernat’s drilled shot minutes later almost handed the home side a safety net had it not been deflected out, while Seydou Keita also came close to netting their third with a great close-range shot hitting the bar.
But it was the away side that hit the target as the game wore on with Dos Santos making no mistake with a superb touch in the box, as he curled the ball into the centre of the home goal in the final 10 minutes.