Madrid, March 12 (IANS) Sevilla lost the chance to close the gap at the top of the La Liga football championship as they were held to a 1-1 draw against Leganes, while Antoine Griezmann scored late to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Granada.
The Saturday draw leaves Sevilla on two points behind Real Madrid with two more games played, and three behind Barcelona, who have played a game less, reports Xinhua news agency.
Leganes took advantage of squad rotations by Sevilla ahead of their Champions League clash away against Leicester City to produce a well-organised and hard-working display and if either of the two deserved to win it was the visitors.
Leganes opened the scoring in the second minute with a Gabriel Pires back-heel and had chances to double their lead before Stefan Jovetic levelled shortly before halftime.
The second half saw Sevilla make changes in search of the win, but they failed to trouble the visitors, who could have taken all three points after a shot from Luciano drifted inches wide.
After the match, Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaolli warned his side that they need to put up a much better show against Leicester. “With this performance it’s going to be very difficult for us to go through in the @ChampionsLeague,” he said, as posted on Twitter by his club.
Atletico also looked to be on the verge of losing ground as their game away against Granada looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw. But French forward Griezmann’s 13th goal of the season from a diving header in the 84th minute ensured Atletico stay fourth, while keeping Granada that bit deeper in the relegation mire.
“It was a very difficult match. The first half was complicated and we had two chances that the assistant referee read as offside but were not and we could have been more comfortable in the game,” Atletico head coach Diego Simeone said in a statement.
“The second half was an exchange of blows in which either Granada or ourselves could have won, because we both had chances. We take with us an important and hard-fought outcome.”
Valencia and Sporting Gijon drew 1-1 at the former’s Mestalla stadium in a result which probably helps the home side more than the visitors, who remain second from bottom of the table.
Sporting keeper Pichu Cuellar saved his second penalty in two weeks before Duje Cop opened put the visitors ahead on the hour and Munir equalised with six minutes left to play.
Michel Gonzalez made his debut as Malaga coach as his side entertained Alaves, but saw how they fell behind to a Zou Feddal goal at the end of the first half.
Malaga reacted well after the break and got a deserved equaliser through Juan Carlos and looked to be on track for a win when Zou Feddal’s second yellow side left his side with 10 men. But Edgar Mendez scored a second goal for Alaves against the run of play to seal an unlikely win in injury time.