Sevilla unable to break down Levante stubborn defence

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Levante did everything to hold Sevilla to a 0-0 draw Sunday which moves them up to fifth in Spain La Liga as they battle for a European place in Champions League or Europa League.

Sevilla have a decent home record and only lost to Barcelona. Even La Liga Champions Real Madrid amongst those defeated but an in-form Levante coped well with the threat from the Andalusian side and remain two points clear of them.

Sevilla faced Levante with several injury setbacks. Piotr Trochowski unavailable in midfield owing to a long-term knee injury and with Diego Perotti also missing, Antonio Luna was given the chance on the left-wing. At the back Alberto Botia was in the treatment room and so Emir Spahic lined up alongside Federico Fazio at centre half.

Levante’s game plan was to defend solidly at the back where they had veteran centre-half Sergio Ballesteros available after suspension and they managed to frustrate Sevilla, who were passing the ball through midfield but were being squeezed out when they tried to attack.

The main danger came down the right-wing with the combination of Jesus Navas and Cicinho, who were looking to cross for target man Alvaro Negredo.

Midway through the first half Navas had a shot from the edge of the area which went narrowly past the post and Negredo also fired wide, while at the other end Juanlu Gomez had a shot from distance which keeper Andres Palop saved comfortably.

After the break Sevilla tried to raise the tempo but still had to resort to shots from distance with Negredo forcing a good save from keeper Gustavo Munua and they went nearest to scoring with a Jose Campana shot which looped off a defender and hit the crossbar.

Earlier, an Aritz Aduriz double gave Athletic Bilbao only their third win of the season as they beat Granada 2-1 away.

The Europa League and King’s Cup finalists last season have had a woeful start to the campaign but Aduriz put them ahead early on from the penalty spot after he himself was felled by Pape Diakhate. He added a second on 26 minutes before Youssef El Arabi pulled one back for Granada after the break.

Espanyol eased their relegation worries with a 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad but there was no joy for Osasuna who remain rock bottom after they crashed 1-0 at home to Valladolid.

On Saturday, Barcelona overcame Celta Vigo 3-1 and have now made their best ever start to a league season with nine wins and a draw. It beats the previous record by Louis van Gaal’s 1997-98 side and Barca remain eight points clear of Real Madrid who won 4-0 against Zaragoza.

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