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Sevilla's title bid loses steam as comeback vs. Celta Vigo falls short

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Seville, Spain, Jan 22, 2022 (AFP) - Sevilla were unable to complete a dramatic comeback against Celta Vigo on Saturday as another stumble gave Real Madrid the chance to move six points clear at the top of La Liga.

Celta hit Sevilla twice in three minutes at the end of the first half as Franco Cervi and Iago Aspas gave the visitors a commanding lead at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

A stunning strike from Papu Gomez gave Sevilla hope and then Oliver Torres equalised four minutes later, leaving the hosts with 16 minutes to find a winner.

But Celta held on for a 2-2 draw that means Sevilla only cut the gap to Real Madrid to three points, with Carlo Ancelotti's side playing their game in hand at home to Elche on Sunday.

It brings an end to a rough week for Sevilla, who drew 1-1 away at Valencia in midweek, on the back of a surprise exit at the hands of local rivals Real Betis in the Copa del Rey last weekend.

That game had to be stopped on Saturday and restarted on Sunday after an object thrown from the Betis crowd hit Sevilla's Joan Jordan and, along with injuries and Covid-19 infections, the sense is of a team struggling with emotional and physical fatigue.

Their coach Julen Lopetegui has been suffering from Covid symptoms this week and was not on the bench again, with his assistant Pablo Sanz in charge on the line.

"I can't blame these guys for anything because with a bit of luck we would have won," said Sanz.

"You leave with some optimism because the team has given everything but it's two points lost at home so the feeling is bitter-sweet."

Sevilla were just about the better team in the first half but they only really threatened when three quick-fire shots were lashed at goal, as Luis Ocampos, Rafa Mir and then Tecatito tried and failed to hit the net.

Then came Celta's quick-fire double, both instigated by sloppy give-aways from Sevilla in midfield. First, Marcos Acuna's weak header dropped loose and as Celta broke, Santi Mina's shot was parried and Cervi drove in the rebound.

Three minutes later Ocampos' return pass to Rakitic never reached its target, with Aspas holding the ball on the edge of the area while Cervi ran beyond him. Aspas curled into the corner.

Sevilla's fans were simmering. Mir was substituted at half-time, along with Ivan Rakitic and Fernando.

There were two optimistic penalty appeals but Sevilla created very little until Gomez shook them into life in the 70th minute, shifting inside from the right and unleashing with his left, the ball sizzling into the top corner.

Sevilla were transformed, the stadium bouncing, and four minutes later they were level, Nestor Araujo's header out falling at the feet of Torres, who prodded the ball between bodies, through the legs of Ivan Romero and in.

They had 16 minutes to find a winner. Torres hit the post with a diving header but that was as close as Sevilla came, Celta holding on for a point.

Sevilla's title bid loses steam as comeback vs. Celta Vigo falls short
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