Sevilla increase pressure on Real Madrid after beating Elche

Fran Santiago / Getty Images Sport / Getty

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Papu Gomez and Rafa Mir scored to help Sevilla beat Elche 2-0 and keep in touch with Spanish league leader Real Madrid on Friday.

Gomez broke through in the 70th minute when the Argentina midfielder slalomed past three defenders and his shot took a deflection in off an Elche player.

Anthony Martial, who made his home debut since his loan from Manchester United, crossed for substitute Mir to head in the second goal six minutes later to ensure the victory at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Julen Lopetegui's side closed to within three points of Madrid.

Madrid visits sixth-placed Villarreal on Saturday without injured striker Karim Benzema, the league top scorer with 17. Three days later it will travel to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

Elche was left in 14th place after its first loss in six rounds.

Emerging as the top challenger to Madrid after the struggles of defending champion Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, Sevilla added Martial and Jesus Corona to its attack in the winter transfer market. Sevilla saw the chance to add to its sole league title in 1946.

But the Andalusian side sputtered recently and was on a run of three straight draws in the league that had threatened to let Madrid run away in the title hunt that is already effectively down to just two teams.

Sevilla was eyeing yet another letdown against an Elche side that earned a 2-2 draw at Madrid two rounds prior. The best Sevilla could muster in attack were two shots by Ivan Rakitic that Badia saved.

That was when Gomez broke the deadlock with his excellent solo effort.

"We had been playing well but had let the results slip away. We knew that we had to win today one way or another to stay in the fight," Gómez said after his fourth goal of the season.

"It is easy to dream (of winning the title). We want to reach the end of season with our options alive."

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Sevilla increase pressure on Real Madrid after beating Elche
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