Sevilla unable to keep pace with Barcelona in Spanish league

MADRID (AP) — Sevilla couldn’t manage more than a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad on Sunday and lost ground to Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league.

The draw left second-place Sevilla four points behind Barcelona, which rallied to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. Barcelona also gained from a draw by third-place Atletico Madrid at Leganes on Saturday and a loss by fourth-place Alaves at Eibar on Sunday.

“We went after the three points from the first minute but we lacked accuracy in the counterattacks,” Sevilla defender Daniel Carrico said. “It’s a pity we couldn’t leave with the three points.”

Sevilla coach Pablo Machin was content with the away draw.

“I’m sure that by the end of the season there will be two teams fighting for the title and another very close to them,” Machin said. “Several teams will be fighting for fourth place and we are privileged to be in contention for these positions.”

Barcelona’s city rival Espanyol has a chance to get within three points of the lead if it defeats struggling Athletic Bilbao at home on Monday.

Real Madrid moved from ninth to sixth after a 2-0 win against Valladolid on Saturday, but it remains seven points behind Barcelona.

Real Sociedad, 13th in the standings, hasn’t won in five matches at its renovated Anoeta Stadium.

THRILLING FINISH

Sevilla rival Real Betis drew with Celta Vigo 3-3 in a thrilling game at Benito Villamarin Stadium.

Betis relinquished a two-goal lead and then went behind in the 84th minute, but the hosts salvaged the draw with a superb free kick by Sergio Canales in the 87th.

Spain striker Iago Aspas nearly gave Celta the lead again a minute later when he struck the crossbar.

Celta dropped to 11th place and Betis is 14th.

BUSY VAR

Alaves missed a chance to stay in second place after a 2-1 loss at Eibar in a match marked by a series of video reviews.

Alaves’ goal by Manu Garcia less than five minutes into the game was initially disallowed for offside but the call was changed by VAR.

VAR also reversed a penalty awarded to Eibar midway through the first half because the foul was committed outside the area, with Alaves defender Ruben Duarte red carded. In the second half, video review led to a red card for Eibar player Pablo De Blasis for a dangerous foul.

Eibar equalized with a goal by Joan Jordan in the 69th and Pape Diop got the winner in stoppage time.

It was the first setback for Alaves after three straight wins.

RELEGATION DANGER

Villarreal couldn’t manage more than a 1-1 draw against Levante at home, staying only one point away from the relegation zone.

Alfonso Pedraza scored the equalizer for Villarreal in stoppage time after Levante had taken the lead with an own-goal by defender Funes Mori in the 77th.

It was the sixth consecutive league game without a win for Villarreal, which began the season with high expectations after a fifth-place finish last season.

Levante hasn’t lost in six straight matches in all competitions.

HUESCA’S WOES

Promoted Huesca was set to leave last place but conceded a stoppage-time goal in a 1-1 home draw against Getafe.

Playing in the top tier for the first time, Huesca hasn’t won since the first round, a run of 10 straight matches.