Having played a taxing Europa League match against PSV Eindhoven in midweek, Jorge Sampaoli had few fully fit players to call upon for Sunday’s duel against Rayo Vallecano. A win was necessary to propel Sevilla as far from the relegation zone as possible.
Sampaoli made various changes compared to the 3-0 victory over PSV, bringing in seven new players into the starting eleven. The Argentine coach insisted on playing his favoured three-at-the-back system, but due to a shortage of centre-backs, he decided to slot in Alex Telles and Fernando, a left-back and central defensive midfielder, alongside Tanguy Nianzou.
The visitors struggled to get a hold of the game, with Rayo aiming to start at a high intensity to exploit the built-up fatigue from their opponent’s more packed calendar. Their initial dominance almost culminated in an early opener with Segio Camello slipping in behind Fernando to take a dangerous shot which was well saved by Bono.
By the 25th minute, Sevilla began to settle into their own and push up the pitch, gradually ever more efficiently, particularly through the right-hand side where Suso and Gonzalo Montiel got closer to Stole Dimitrievski’s goal.
Sure enough, it was through their mounting momentum that Sevilla found their goal. A low cross by Montiel was cleared poorly and landed at Suso’s feet. Óscar Valentín slid in to block the shot which was aimed for the bottom right corner, but only succeeded in deflecting it to the bottom left, leaving Dimitrievski diving into thin air. Suso hadn’t scored in over two years, but after a strong run of form in recent matches, he more than deserved the goal which will serve as a confidence boost.
The half-time break served to reset the dynamic of the game, as Rayo came out laying siege on Sevilla’s box. Some poor finishing saved Sampaoli’s side from falling behind, but the loose marking of Florian Lejeune on a corner led to the home side equalising.
Both Youssef En-Nesyri and Raúl de Tomás succeeded in putting the ball in the back of their opponent’s net, but both had their potential match-winners ruled offside.
A point apiece means Sevilla tiptoe slightly further from the relegation zone, sitting in twelfth place and five points clear of the dreaded bottom three spots. Rayo lose momentum in their charge for European spots.
Nicolás Antúnez de Mayolo | GSFN