April 1, 2018 / 9:19 AM / 10 months ago

Thrilling draw offers Sevilla hope and despair against Bayern

SEVILLE (Reuters) - Sevilla are regarded as one of the weaker teams left in the Champions League but their pulsating 2-2 draw with Barcelona on Saturday fired a warning shot to quarter-final opponents Bayern Munich as well as serving as a reminder of their own frailties.

The Andalusians were on the verge of becoming the first team to beat Barcelona in La Liga and the Champions League this season until strikes from Luis Suarez and substitute Lionel Messi in the space of a minute rescued Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Sevilla’s forward line of Joaquin Correa, Jesus Navas, Franco Vazquez and Colombian centre forward Luis Muriel caused endless problems for the runaway Liga leaders every time they swept forward on the counterattack.

Vazquez opened the scoring from a cutback from Correa in the first half while Muriel buried a rebound early in the second period and both players missed clear chances to finish off Barca, while Jesus Navas had a goal-bound shot blocked by Gerard Pique.

They were left cursing their profligacy as well as their lapses in concentration when Suarez pulled a goal back in the 88th minute following a corner and Messi found space on the edge of the area to level in the 89th.

Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella praised his team for their entertaining display while admitting his frustration at not winning the game, which would have given them a huge injection of confidence before hosting Bayern on Tuesday.

“Tonight I will sleep very badly,” said the Italian coach, whose side beat Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford last month in the shock result of the last-16 to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

“I’m proud of the team and the spirit they showed but we have to improve and make sure we score when we have the chance. We could have killed the game off, it’s a real pity we didn’t.”

Sevilla have had a disappointing domestic campaign and are sixth in the Liga standings.

Before facing Barca they had lost six of their 12 league games since Montella replaced sacked coach Eduardo Berizzo but, just as they had done against United and Atletico Madrid in the King’s Cup, the Andalusians raised their game against high profile opponents.

Montella encouraged his side to play with the same swagger against five-times European champions Bayern, who walloped rivals Borussia Dortmund 6-0 on Saturday to move within one win of retaining the German title, while urging them to be more clinical in front of goal.

“This is an important lesson for the Champions League,” added the coach.

“We have to accept this result and try and improve. We have to be angry with ourselves. I’m proud of what the players did but we can’t afford games like this to slip from our grasp.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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