Carlos Fernández opened the scoring for the hosts inside five minutes, but the Nervionenses struck twice in two minutes to secure a crucial win at the Reale Arena
Sevilla FC picked up a crucial victory away at Real Sociedad on Sunday afternoon, with the three points taking the Blanquirrojos 17 points clear of fifth place, which practically confirms that Champions League football will be back in Nervión again next season. This all came in a difficult match, so much so that Imanol's side took the lead in the blink of an eye. However, the visitors did not back down and showed their desire to turn the match on its head. They grew into the game and began to dominate, before they struck twice in a minute to take the lead. In fact, Julen Lopetegui's side dominated for the first of the half, with the 2-1 lead somewhat flattering the hosts.
It was an exciting first half at the Reale Arena, a ground which has traditionally been unkind to the Nervionenses. It appeared to be the same old story after just five minutes, as Real Sociedad took the lead. The goal came via a volley from Carlos Fernández, the Sevilla academy graduate who left the club in the winter to join the San Sebastián outfit. An early setback, but there was more than enough time for the visitors to respond.
Fernando and En-Nesyri turned the match on its head after an early goal from Carlos Fernández
The first opportunity for an equaliser came a few minutes later, and was swiftly followed by another. En-Nesyri's header rebounded off the post and into the path of Ocampos, who fired his shot over the bar. The Argentine also went close on twenty minutes, but Remiro made a fine save to deny him. However, Fernando went one better just two minutes later, taking advantage of a deflection off Le Normand to level the scores in the 22nd minute. It was more than deserved for Sevilla, who had taken control of the match. Just seconds later, they got their reward. A long-range effort from Ocampos was deflected onto the post and fell kindly for En-Nesyri, who fired the visitors into a more than deserved lead.
Lopetegui's side pushed for more goals, with Ocampos going close. Remiro then made a double save from Koundé's header and Fernando's rebound. The Nervionenses then hit the woodwork for the third time as En-Nesyri headed a cross onto the post. That was the last of the first-half action, with a very strong response from Sevilla to go into the break in front after the early setback. The one-goal margin, however, did not reflect the team's efforts.
The only option that the Txuri-urdin had in the second half was to go for it, and that is what they did. Imanol made that clear with his substitutions, bringing on Januzaj, Guridi and Gorosabel in response to Lopetegui's decision to replace Suso with Rakitic. Gudelj and Óliver Torres freshened up the midfield, while Portu was also brought on. En-Nesyri had a gilt-edged opportunity to make it 3-1, but Remiro won the battle of wits.
The Moroccan striker nearly made it 3-1, but he was denied by Remiro
With this situation, all the visitors could do was stop the hosts' attacks, who tried to beat Bono from all angles. Januzaj attempted to score from a corner, while Portu tried his luck from the edge of the box. However, Imanol's side could not find an equaliser, meaning that Julen Lopetegui's team picked up a vital win at the Reale Arena which practically secures Champions League football for next season, with a 17-point lead over fifth place with just 21 points to play for. Attentions will now turn to the third consecutive away match, a trip to Levante in just three days time.
1. REAL SOCIEDAD: A. Remiro; Monreal, Le Normand, Zubeldia, Aritz Elustondo (Guridi, min. 74); Oyarzabal (Januzaj, min. 74), Zubimendi, Guevara, Barrenetxea (Portu, min. 83); Carlos Fernández (Gorosabel, min. 74), Isak.
2. SEVILLA FC: Bono; Acuña, Diego Carlos, Kounde, Jesús Navas; Papu Gómez (Gudelj, min. 77), Fernando, Joan Jordán (Óliver Torres, min. 77), Ocampos (Franco Vázquez, min. 89), En Nesyri (De Jong, min. 89), Suso (Rakitic, min. 65).
GOALS: 1-0, 5': Carlos Fernández; 1-1, 22': Fernando; 1-2, 23': En-Nesyri.
REFEREE: Santiago Jaime Latre, from Aragon. Bookings for Diego Carlos, Jordán, Carlos Fernández, Isak and Barrenetxea.