Saturday, January 20, 2007
La Liga: Sevilla slip up again at Villarreal
MADRID, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Leaders Sevilla continued their
poor start to the year when they were held to a 0-0 draw at
Villarreal on Saturday opening the door for Barcelona to take
charge at the top by the halfway mark of the season.
Sevilla have taken just one point from their first three
matches in 2007 and are only three clear of title rivals Barca
who have two games in hand.
The Catalans will take over at the top if they beat basement
side Gimnastic Tarragona on Sunday but if not they will have
another chance to claim the symbolic title of winter champions
at Real Betis next Wednesday.
Villarreal, who had only won once in their previous five
games, produced one of their best performances of the season in
the opening half hour and were unlucky not to be ahead at
Sevilla were on top for most of the second half, but leading
scorer Frederic Kanoute missed a great chance on the hour to put
them in front when he sliced the ball wide of the post with just
the keeper to beat.
Earlier, Atletico Madrid moved up to joint second place
after a 1-0 win over Osasuna who ended the game with just seven
men after they had four players sent off in the closing minutes
of a bad-tempered match at the Calderon.
Osasuna defender Carlos Cuellar, striker Roberto Soldado,
keeper Ricardo and midfielder Raul Garcia were all dismissed in
the last 11 minutes.
The win left Atletico on 35 points, level with Barca and
Real Madrid who play on Sunday and three behind Sevilla.
Atletico, knocked out of the King's Cup by Osasuna in
midweek, looked to have blown their victory chances when captain
Fernando Torres fluffed a 79th-minute penalty after being hauled
back by Cuellar who was sent off for his troubles.
But Ze Castro spared the Atletico striker's blushes when he
steered the ball in from the edge of the area seven minutes from
Eighth-placed Osasuna's comeback hopes went up in smoke when
Soldado was red-carded for use of the elbow three minutes from
Ricardo followed him down the tunnel after picking up a
second yellow card for time wasting while Garcia was dismissed
for a reckless challenge on Yourkas Seitaridis.
The match was also marred by a repetition of racist abuse at
the Calderon, this time directed against Osasuna's Cameroon
striker Pierre Webo.
Atletico have been fined for racist abuse on several
occasions in recent seasons.