The foundations of the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán have hardly ever been put to such a test in such a short space of time. After enduring a memorable night against United, today they were once again subjected to the up and downs of the fans, who celebrated a last-gasp victory that only served to underline the good momentum the team has been enjoying since the arrival of José Luis Mendilibar.
After taking the lead through a superb first-half goal from Rafa Mir, Villarreal pulled themselves back into the game, created a threat and eventually equalised through Pau Torres. Mendilibar made changes, Sevilla pulled themselves together, but they still lacked the fuel to go for more. Then, in extra time, En-Nesyri once again leapt above everyone else at a corner and slotted home to seal three precious points.
Despite starting with a totally different line-up to Thursday, with only Badé and Rakitic in the starting line-up, the approach was exactly the same as against United. Intensity, high pressing and a clear intention to steal the ball from the visitors. As a result, ten minutes into the game, Mendilibar's side had already made six approaches into Pepe Reina's area. Nearly all of them resulted from that intensity in the tackling, although Sevilla were perhaps a little too hasty in how they resolved those chances.
Óliver Torres was the star of the show when it came to winning the ball back, coming in through the centre or dropping to the right. And while Setién's team were trying to make the breakthrough in Nervión, the first setback came for the Cantabrian coach, who had to withdraw the injured Morales to bring on Jackson. Without complications for Dmitrovic, Suso had the clearest chance of the first half hour with a shot from the edge of the area that Reina saved with reflexes.
Ten minutes to go before the break, Suso intercepted the ball in his own half. He didn’t stop to think, and ran up to our opponent’s area before playing a beautiful ball into Rafa Mir. The striker acted on instinct, hitting the ball first time and it flew into the top corner. There was nothing Reina could do about it.
Finally, Sevilla had got the reward their attacking display deserved and were in the driving seat. But football is unpredictable, and Villarreal found a way back into the game. The men in yellow started to make passes which they hadn’t had success with earlier, and they almost equalised just before half-time. Lo Celso couldn’t score when he had two clear chances, but Jackson’s close-range effort hit the back of the net. Luckily, Jackson was in an offside position. There was still time, during extra time, for Sevilla to edge further in front with Suso hitting the bar.
The script didn’t change too much in the second half. After the break, Jackson’s shot was stopped by Dmitrovic before Pau Torres scored from a corner, making the most of the large amount of space he had found himself in. VAR was required to confirm that Torres was in an onside position, and the scores were then level.
Mendilibar then began to make changes, with Ocampos and En-Nesyri the first to come on. Sevilla were keeping the visitors at bay, but you could tell that the first half, as well as the match on Thursday, had taken a lot out of the players. The match opened up and the quality of the away side in the final third meant that they were always a threat. Capoue and Parejo almost scored the winner, but Navas also went close with a forceful shot in the 89th minute that went just wide.
It looked like a draw was inevitable, which neither side would have been particularly happy with. However, the hero from Thursday had something to say. A beautiful corner from Rakitic went into the middle of the box, and the Moroccan rose highest to head the ball in. It was party time in Nervión again, even though Torres could have scored once again in the final play.
It didn’t matter though, because the three points were now Sevilla’s. We keep on climbing further away from the drop ahead of our trip to San Mamés on Thursday. Another huge match to keep on moving up the table.