Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Martial misfires, Rakitic misses penalty as Sevilla held by Osasuna

PAMPLONA (AFP) – Anthony Martial made his Sevilla debut on Saturday but could not rouse his team to beat Osasuna as a goalless draw gave Real Madrid the chance to extend their lead at the top of La Liga.

Sevilla were given a golden opportunity in injury-time to snatch victory at El Sadar but Ivan Rakitic missed a penalty, his shot well saved by the diving Sergio Herrera.

It was a dramatic end to an otherwise underwhelming contest and a potentially big moment in the title race, with Madrid now able to move six points clear if they win at home to Granada.

“We deserved the three points,” said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui.

“I don’t think they had a chance and we had some clear ones. We controlled the game but it wasn’t to be. We’re disappointed.”

A tired and depleted Sevilla have struggled to keep the pressure on Madrid in recent weeks, this their fourth draw in their last six games in the league.

Injuries struck again as Luis Ocampos pulled up in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Rakitic and then Gonzalo Montiel went down and had to go off in the sixth minute.

The hope was that Martial, signed on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window, would bring fresh impetus but the Frenchman looked rusty before being replaced after 76 minutes.

Martial said he joined Sevilla to play more regularly after making only two starts in the Premier League for United this season, and he looked like a player lacking sharpness and rhythm.

The 26-year-old played off the left of the front three and while he showed some neat touches and one driving run, there were poor touches too and his overall contribution amounted to very little.

“He has just arrived,” said Lopetegui. “He has to go little by little and settle into the team. I’m sure it’ll happen soon.”

Sevilla’s best chance in open play fell to Youssef En-Nesyri in the second half but the Moroccan’s attempted finish off the top of his thigh plopped straight into the hands of Herrera.

Herrera would go one better in the 93rd minute after Jules Kounde had poked the ball onto the outstretched arm of Osasuna’s Manu Sanchez and after consulting the replay, Valentin Pizarro pointed to the spot.

Rakitic stepped up, snaking his run-up before whipping the shot low and left. But Herrera guessed right, dove down and pushed the ball away.