Despite being bottom of the league, Leganés forced Lopetegui's men to dig deep to secure a very hard-fought win. Diego Carlos scored the only goal from a corner
Today's midday match at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán certainly did not follow the script. Sevilla FC won a third straight league match for the first time this season, but it was not plain sailing for them against a resilient Leganés side. Diego Carlos pounced on a goalmouth scramble after a corner to score the only goal of the match. Aguirre's men tested Tomas Vaclík, who, alongside the centre-half pairing of Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé, turned in an top-quality performance. After an injury-time full of controversy and tension, Sevilla held on for three points and are currently the main opposition to Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, who in fact play away to Atlético de Madrid tonight.
It was a dull, chilly morning in Nervión, and the football early on mirrored the weather. Aguirre came with a very clear plan, a five-man defence which gave Sevilla very little space and sought to frustrate them. Early attempts to beat Cuéllar were blocked. Siovas barely lasted five minutes on the field and had to be substituted after a collision with Franco Vázquez. The first real chance came after a quarter of an hour, when a wicked cross from Óliver Torres was headed wide by Nolito.
Sevilla dominated, playing down the wings, particularly the left-hand side, but struggled to create clear-cut chances. De Jong had one of the better chances of the half, which was well-saved by Cuéllar, and Franco Vázquez had a header cleared off the line from the resulting corner. A couple of minutes later, Sevilla broke away at pace after a Leganés corner, with Jesús Navas laying it on a plate for De Jong, but his back-heel flick went narrowly wide. Sevilla did eventually have the ball in the net, De Jong had another chance tipped away by Cuéllar, but Vázquez was flagged offside as he bundled in the rebound.
The second half saw a particularly nervy start from Sevilla, especially after the way the first half had gone. Just two minutes into the second half, a poor backpass from Jordán released Óscar, who was unable to beat Vaclík. En Nesyri went even closer a couple of minutes later with a chip, which really shook the fans in Nervión. This led to Lopetegui's first subs, bringing on Gudelj to play in front of the defence, and Bryan to play at left-wing. When the plan isn't working, you try another one. The first goal followed shortly afterwards.
Just after the hour mark, Banega's corner was sent back into the box by Navas towards De Jong. It was pinball in the box but Diego Carlos managed to get a shot away and fired Sevilla 1-0 in front. Sevilla looked to control the match, but Leganés were obliged to come out and try to equalise, and began to dominate for the first time in the match. It was time to dig deep, a change of formation followed, with Franco Vázquez as a false nine and Diego Carlos fought on despite going down injured late on.
A very hard-thought three points, which means Sevilla stay a point behind Real Madrid and continue to fight in the top 3. There is no midweek match, which means Sevilla will travel to Pamplona next Sunday in second place provided Barcelona drop points away at Atlético de Madrid tonight. The trip to Osasuna next week may well be too soon for Diego Carlos or Joan Jordán, who both appeared to suffer knocks today.
1. SEVILLA FC: Vaclík, Jesús Navas, Koundé, Diego Carlos, Reguilón, Joan Jordán, Banega, Óliver Torres (Gudelj, 58'), Franco Vázquez, Nolito (Bryan, 62') and De Jong (Sergi Gómez, 83').
0. CD LEGANÉS: Cuéllar, Rosales, Bustinza, Awaziem, Siovas (Kevin Rodrigues, 5'), Silva, Óscar (Carrillo, 78'), Rubén Pérez, Recio (Eraso, 78'), Braithwaite and En Nesyri.
GOALS: 1-0, 63': Diego Carlos.
REFEREE :Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea, from the Basque Country. Bookings for Awaziem, Óscar, Rosales, Óliver Torres, Bryan and Franco Vázquez.