We had to win and we did. The team showed energy from the start but they found it difficult to get into right rhythm to cause damage to Francisco's team. The breakthrough would come in the second half as the team piled on the pressure. Papu Gómez and Rafa Mir scored goals minutes apart to keep the three points in Seville as we keep the pressure on Madrid and widen the gap with those below us.
Both teams showed their strategy from the start. Sevilla played on the front foot, looking to play quickly down the wings to look for En-Nesyri, while Elche looked to minimise risks and keep things solid. That said, the first chance would fall to Elche after Guido Carrillo won the ball in the box and fired it wide of Bono's right post. We replied with what would be the biggest chance of the first half as Tecatito played Youssef in one-on-one. The Moroccan unfortunately opted to cut back onto his left foot, allowing the rushing centre-back to get back and clear the ball.
Sevilla were the better side in the first half but they couldn't find the goal
Youssef would have another chance just before the break following a rebound from a Rakitić shot, but just before he pulled the trigger, he lost his footing and slipped. From then on, the game went more in the favour of the home side, but without the final pass. While Tecatito was treated for an injury, Palacios did have to come off. That lead to an injury time of six minutes which saw Papu fire just wide.
Sevilla started the second half very strongly, at the start of which Munir came on for En-Nesyri. There were three dangerous chances in Badía’s area with the clearest of theses falling to Diego Carlos after a corner from Jordán, but the goalkeeper saved the header with ease. A short while after it was Rakitic who tried once again from distance but the Elche goalkeeper pushed the ball out for a corner. With an hour played, Lopetegui made a double change with Rafa Mir and Delaney coming on for Tecatito and Jordán respectively. The plan from Elche was clearly to defend from the edge of the area and try to play on the counterattack, while Sevilla through Papu tried to find gaps.
The two goals shortly after each other from Papu and Rafa Mir were a blow for Elche
And it was the Argentine who made the breakthrough in a chance where he was preparing a direct shot which ended up being blocked by the body of Verdú that then made it impossible for his goalkeeper Bandía to stop. The most difficult thing was done at last. Luckily, less than 15 minutes remained, when a great cross from Martial from the left – his first assist in Nervión found Rafa Mir who finished with a brilliant header into the corner of the goal to make it 2-0. Up until then the Elche resistance, who despite coming to Nervión as the best team so far in 2022, had found it tough against the Sevilla side. It fact it was Sevilla who finished stronger against the side from Alicante in search of a third that didn’t come.
At the end of a long week and with the work done for the white and reds, they can now begin to prepare in the days ahead for the return of the UEFA Europa League. It will once again be at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán against Dinamo Zagreb next Thursday, a game which up until Monday season ticket holders can activate their seats at a reduced price. Then it will be La Liga on Saturday at the Cornellá-El Prat against Espanyol in a game in which Acuña will not be able to play after getting injured in the final few minutes. A lot remains to be seen for the rest of the matchday, in which now only three points separate Sevilla from Real Madrid, while they are ten ahead of Real Betis.
2. SEVILLA FC: Bono, Koundé, Rekik, Diego Carlos, Acuña, Jordán (Delaney, 60'), Rakitic (Óliver Torres, 90+3'), Papu Gómez, Tecatito (Rafa Mir, 60'), Martial (Fernando, 81') and En-Nesyri (Munir, 46').
0. ELCHE CF: Edgar Badía, Palacios (Barragán, 40'), Enzo Roco (Kike, 75'), Verdú, Mojica, Mascarell, Gumbau, Morente (Josan, 75'), Fidel (Pastore, 58'), Carrillo and Pere Milla (Piatti, 75').
GOALS: 1-0, 70': Papu Gómez; 2-0, 76': Rafa Mir.
REFEREE: Miguel Ángel Ortiz Arias. Yellows for Verdú, Gumbau, Badía, Pastore and Acuña.