La Liga: Leaders Barcleona held, Sevilla rescues late draw

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Barcelona’s lead at the top of the La Liga table shrunk after they were held off the scoresheet in a 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés Stadium. Lionel Messi rattled the post in the 26th minute on what would have been a wild strike, but otherwise managed just two shots on target.

The visitors held two thirds of the possession, but they were unable to find a breakthrough. Messi sailed a free-kick over the bar in the 57th minute in another of Barcelona’s few good chances, but otherwise there was little for them to savor. Ousmane Dembele thought he had a penalty won with the last kick of the game, but referee Carlos del Cerro waved it off after a chat with his VAR team.

Athletic nearly gave Barcelona something bigger to think about in the 17th minute, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was on hand to produce a wonderful save, denying a curling effort from Markel Susaeta that was destined for the top corner. The hosts also saw defender Oscar de Marcos sent off in the 91st minute for a second yellow after a handball prevented a Barcelona break.

The draw moves Barcelona to 51 points, six clear of Real Madrid on 45 points, with Atletico Madrid one back of their cross-town rivals in third.

Elsewhere, Sevilla saw the gap between third and fourth increase after a 2-2 draw against Eibar at home. Sevilla only rescued the point on a 92nd minute goal from Pablo Sarabia with the team down to 10 men. With Ever Banega sent off in the 84th minute for a second yellow card, Sarabia slotted home a cross from Dutch winger Quincy Promes. With Sevilla now on 37 points, they sit seven behind Atletico Madrid.

Valencia drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad in a game that featured just five shots on target, including just one by visitors Sociedad despite holding nearly 60% possession. Despite the possessional disadvantage, Valencia was unlucky not to come away with the win, with Kevin Gamiero missing right in front of goal in the 65th minute.

Finally, Leganes hammered Real Betis 3-0 on a hat-trick from 21-year-old Moroccan Youssef En-Nesyri who scored his sixth goal in the last three league matches. En-Nesyri’s hot streak has been critical for Leganes, with the team garnering seven points in that three-match stretch to jump out of the relegation scrap and into 11th, six points clear of the drop.