Sevilla relinquishes late lead in draw with Levante in Spain

Sevilla missed a chance to strengthen its hold on third place in the Spanish league after conceding an 87th-minute own-goal in drawing with Levante 1-1 on Monday.

Luuk de Jong put Sevilla ahead a few seconds into the second half but a fluke play near the end gave the host the draw as a cross partially saved by goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik ricocheted off defender Diego Carlos and went into their own net.

Sevilla was on its way to opening a six-point gap to fourth-placed Real Sociedad had it held on to the victory. It would also have moved within six points of second-placed Real Madrid, although the team’s main goal this season is to finish in the top four and guarantee its return to the Champions League.

Sevilla last played in the European competition in the 2017-18 season, reaching the quarterfinals.

Real Sociedad can move to a point behind Sevilla if it wins at Alavés on Thursday.

Fifth-placed Getafe and sixth-placed Atlético Madrid are five points behind Sevilla ahead of their midweek games.

“It’s not a good feeling,” Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui said. “We played well for 75 minutes but in the end we conceded too much space and they improved. It’s my responsibility because with five substitutions the team was supposed to get better, but it was the opposite.”

The game at Levante was Sevilla’s second after the league resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic. It got the league going on Thursday by beating city rival Real Betis 2-0.

Betis followed the derby loss by drawing at home with Granada 2-2 in a game in which it rallied to take the lead with goals in the 85th and 87th minutes but conceded an equalizer a minute into stoppage time.

Betis, which defeated Real Madrid in its last match before the league was suspended, stayed in 13th place. Granada moved to eighth.

Sevilla had the most significant chances from the start against Levante but couldn’t capitalize on them until De Jong completed a pass from Munir El Haddadi after a fast counterattack less than 30 seconds into the second half.

El Haddadi struck the crossbar from a 15th-minute free kick, and Diego Carlos had a goal disallowed in the 54th for an offensive foul inside the area.

There was not much Diego Carlos could do when the the ball hit him and went into the net after Vaclik couldn’t hold on to a low cross by Levante defender Jorge Miramón.

Levante nearly got the late winner when Borja Mayoral’s low shot forced Vaclik to make a difficult save by the post in the 90th.

Levante is playing its home matches at Camilo Cano Stadium in La Nucía, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from its base in Valencia, where Ciutat de Valencia Stadium is being renovated.

Large banners with photos of Levante fans were in the empty stands of Camilo Cano.

Sevilla on Friday hosts leader Barcelona. Levante, 12th in the standings, visits Espanyol on Saturday.