Sevilla

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Sevilla in danger of missing top-four after home hammering

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SEVILLE, Spain (AP) Sevilla suffered its worst home loss of the season on Friday, falling 3-0 at home to Leganes in the Spanish league and stumbling again in the fight for a Champions League berth.

It was a second consecutive defeat and third in four games for Sevilla, which is vying with Getafe and Valencia to accompany champion Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the competition next season.

Sevilla remained in fifth, tied on points with fourth-place Getafe and three points ahead of Valencia. Getafe hosts Girona on Sunday before Valencia visits last-place Huesca.

Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite scored and had two assists for Leganes. He redirected a long pass with a subtle touch to set up Youssef En-Nesyri, who capped the counterattack with a curling shot in the eighth minute, then scored in the 20th when he used his chest to control the ball and open a firing angle around defender Jesus Navas.

Braithwaite assisted Oscar Rodriguez to round off the rout in the 82nd minute. Navas tried to clear Rodriguez’s goal-bound shot, but it went off his leg and into the net.

Leganes, a modest club from Madrid, is quietly having a solid campaign, moving into ninth place with the win.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of second

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

La Liga: Sevilla wins El Gran Derbi over Betis; Barcelona held to a draw

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Here’s a roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Sevilla 3-2 Real Betis

The Ramos Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium was rocking on Saturday as Sevilla took bragging rights at home against city rivals Real Betis.

Munir El Haddadi put Sevilla in the lead in the first half and a pair of goals in a four-minute span from Pablo Sarabia and Franco Vasquez put Sevilla up 3-1 at the time. A late goal from Christian Tello by Betis made for some nervy moments at the end, but Sevilla pulled out the big rivalry win.

Huesca 0-0 Barcelona

First-place Barcelona couldn’t manage a goal in a trip to last-place Huesca. Barcelona fielded almost an entirely second-string side, with Spanish youngsters Carles Alena and Riqui Puig getting starts in central midfield, but it showed that even in La Liga, the worst-place team can still secure a point against Barcelona. The likes of Malcolm, Ousmane Dembele and Arturo Vidal couldn’t find their way through Huesca’s backline.

Sevilla coach says he has leukemia, will stay with team

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MADRID (AP) Sevilla coach Joaquin Caparros says he has leukemia but will stay on the job with the Spanish club.

Caparros made the announcement after Sevilla’s 2-0 win at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday.

“I have chronic leukemia but it won’t keep me from doing my job,” the 63-year-old Caparros said in the post-match news conference. “I’m living a normal life. I won’t talk about the subject anymore but I wanted everyone to know that everything is OK.”

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Sevilla has won three of its four matches since Caparros, a former sports director for the club, took over from the fired Pablo Machin last month.

Caparros was also in charge for the final stretch of last season after Italian coach Vincenzo Montella was fired.

Sevilla is fifth in the league, one point behind fourth-placed Getafe in the fight for the final Champions League spot, with seven rounds left.

In 2017, then Sevilla coach Eduardo “Toto” Berizzo stayed on the job after undergoing surgery to treat prostate cancer.

Pallotta perplexed at Monchi’s departure, said director had no ‘Plan B’

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AS Roma owner Jim Pallotta is set for a much different April than his previous one.

It was about 11 months ago that the American businessman was swimming in a Roman fountain following an upset of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

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Now, he’s fired coach Eusebio Di Francesco and watched as sporting director Monchi left his position for a spot back home at Sevilla.

And the latter part has him perplexed, especially as Monchi used his departure to say that Pallotta wanted to opposite of his sporting director.

Pallotta has taken the opportunity to explain his feelings via the Roma web site.

“In November, when our season was going from bad to worse and everyone could see that the coach was struggling to get a reaction out of the players, I asked Monchi for his Plan B should things continue to get worse. He had sole responsibility for football operations at Roma but he didn’t have a Plan B. That was November. He said his Plan B was just to keep doing the same as Plan A.

“So, if I read or listen to the radio interviews he’s giving where he says that the idea of the ownership was different to his and that is why he left, please let me know what Monchi wanted to do differently? He asked me to trust him and let him do it his way. We gave him complete control and now we have more injuries than we’ve ever had and are in danger of missing out on finishing in the Top 3 for the first time since 2014.”

Also notable, as Claudio Ranieri shepherds Roma through life without a permanent manager, are reports that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is Pallotta’s preferred next-in-line.

Calcio Mercato says Roma would offer the embattled Chelsea boss a path back to Serie A, where he shown with Napoli before being publicly courted by the Stamford Bridge set.

Roma is four points behind Milan and six back of third-place Inter, and is a Lazio win away from sitting sixth. I Lupi was stunned by Porto in the Champions League, and waxed by Fiorentina in the Italian Cup.

Napoli, Inter, and Juventus are still on Roma’s fixture list with 10 matches to play.