MADRID (AFP) – Sevilla all-but secured Champions League qualification by beating relegation battlers Real Mallorca 2-0 on Sunday.
Lucas Ocampos scored a first-half penalty before Youssef En-Nesyri added a second late on to move Sevilla nine points clear of fifth-placed Villarreal.
With three games left and the superior head-to-head, Villarreal are not mathematically out of contention but they would have to take maximum points and see Sevilla lose both of their remaining matches.
“Champions League qualification was our objective,” said Sevilla’s Fernando Reges.
“We are very close and now we just have some small steps left to make it.”
Finishing in the top four would be an impressive achievement for Sevilla and their coach Julen Lopetegui, who took over last year following his nightmares in charge of Spain and Real Madrid.
Lopetegui, together with sporting director Monchi, oversaw a dramatic overhaul of the first team squad but change has not come at the expense of consistency for Sevilla, who are now 13 matches unbeaten in La Liga.
They could even yet finish third, given they sit level on points with Atletico Madrid.
Defeat damages Real Mallorca’s fading hopes of avoiding relegation.
They remain three points behind Alaves, who have a superior record head-to-head and a game in hand against Getafe.
“We knew winning here would send out a strong message. We couldn’t do it but we don’t stop believing,” said Mallorca’s Antonio Raillo.