BARCELONA (Reuters) - Sevilla’s hopes of winning a first La Liga title since 1946 were dented for the second time in five days as they fought back for a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Leganes thanks to Stevan Jovetic’s first-half equaliser on Saturday.
Sevilla are third on 57 points, three behind leaders Barcelona, who visit Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, and two behind Real Madrid, who host Real Betis also on Sunday and have an extra game in hand on both their title rivals.
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann scored for the fourth time in three games to earn a hard-fought 1-0 win at Granada which leaves Diego Simeone’s side fourth on 52 points, four ahead of Real Sociedad, who meet Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Gabriel Pires gave Leganes a shock third minute lead at Sevilla with a clever backheel from close range and the Madrid outfit, who are 16th, missed two chances to double the lead.
Jovetic pulled Jorge Sampaoli’s side level two minutes before halftime after Fernando Vazquez had an effort narrowly ruled offside but Sevilla barely threatened to find a winner in a disappointing display after the break.
They were booed off by supporters after again failing to win following Monday’s 1-1 draw at Alaves.
Sevilla visit Premier League champions Leicester City on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie with a slender 2-1 lead.
“Playing like this we’re going to struggle to go far in the Champions League because you face the toughest games against opponents who don’t afford you any mistakes,” Sampaoli told reporters.
“If we don’t manage to improve the way we control games then Tuesday’s game is going to be very difficult. Then again, we haven’t lost for eight games, but we have to try and do much better than we have been doing recently.”
Atletico finally broke Granada’s resistance’s when France international Griezmann dived to head Koke’s back post cross into the far corner in the 84th minute.
The win moved Atletico within five points of Sevilla, who they meet next Sunday at the Vicente Calderon. Before then, Atletico host Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League last 16 second leg with a comfortable 4-2 lead in the tie.
“It was tough because they (Granada) are fighting for their lives and every game is a final for them. They have to win at any cost but we kept trying and eventually got the goal which takes us closer to our objective of finishing third,” said Koke.
In Saturday’s other games, Valencia’s Munir El Haddadi struck late to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon. Dani Parejo missed a penalty for the hosts just before Duje Cop put Sporting ahead on the hour.
Malaga coach Michel, the former Real Madrid winger, endured a difficult first game in charge as they lost 2-1 at home to Alaves due to an added-time strike by Edgar Mendez.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris