Morocco international striker Youssef En-Nesyri was the saviour for Sevilla as his goal ensured they will play Uefa Champions League football next season following a 1-1 draw with outgoing champions Atletico Madrid in the penultimate round of La Liga action on Sunday.
Jose Maria Gimenez had given Atletico a 30th-minute lead after connecting well with Yannick Carrasco’s cross as the home side held on until the 85th minute when En-Nesyri latched onto a perfectly timed through-ball behind the Atletico defence to slot in the equaliser.
En-Nesyri, who had 24 goals in all competitions last season, scored just his fourth of the current campaign but it proved to be important as it sealed Sevilla’s place in next season’s Champions League at the expense of local rivals Real Betis, who will have to settle for fifth place.
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Meanwhile, Samuel Chukwueze and his Villarreal might not be involved in any European competition next season following a 2-1 loss away to Real Sociedad in a match they needed to win to stay in contention for a Europa League slot.
Villarreal got off to a good start when Francis Coquelin put them ahead on the stroke of half-time after volleying in Dani Parejo’s cross.
However, after the break, Sociedad firmed their grip on sixth place when Alexander Isak levelled with his first goal from open play since December before Martin Zubimendi made it 2-1, 23 minutes later.
Chukwueze had started the game but made little impact before he was replaced in the 74th minute as Sociedad held on to win the match and secure the final Europa League spot as they are assured of sixth position, having accumulated 62 points, six ahead of Villarreal with one game remaining.
The loss is a blow to the Yellow Submarine, Champions League semi-finalists this season and Europa League winners in 2020-21, as they will either have to win their final game against Barcelona to secure a place in the less prestigious Europa Conference League or risk missing out given Athletic Bilbao are just a point behind.
Elsewhere, Cadiz increased their survival chances after coming from a goal down to force a 1-1 draw against champions Real Madrid who had fielded a weak team with an eye on the May 28 Champions League final against Liverpool.
Mariano Diaz put Madrid ahead after just five minutes but Ruben Sobrino levelled matters in the 37th minute as the hosts piled on the pressure in search of a winner that would have lifted them from the relegation zone.
The draw leaves Cadiz 18th on 36 points, same as 17th-placed Real Mallorca and one behind Granada in 16th and will be hoping that results go their way while they beat bottom club Alaves in the final game to escape relegation.