October 7, 2018 / 4:39 PM / 9 days ago

Sevilla go top with Celta win, Atletico subs see off Betis

MADRID (Reuters) - Sevilla moved provisionally top of La Liga by beating visitors Celta Vigo 2-1 on Sunday for a fourth straight victory that saw them climb above Atletico Madrid, who had led the table for a couple of hours after a 1-0 home win over over Real Betis.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - October 7, 2018 Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

Midfielder Pablo Sarabia headed Sevilla in front six minutes before halftime and their task was made easier when Celta’s Mexican defender Nestor Araujo was sent off for picking up two bookings in the space of two minutes before the hour mark.

The hosts’ French striker Wissam Ben Yedder doubled their lead by nudging the ball home from close range in the 61st minute, although the goal needed to be verified by the video assistant referee (VAR) before it was awarded.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - October 7, 2018 Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone reacts REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

Celta’s Sofiane Boufal scored with an impressive long-range strike in the 85th but it proved only a consolation for the mid-table visitors, who lost for the second time this season.

Sevilla lead the standings on 16 points, while Atletico are second with 15 but Barcelona, who visit Valencia in the late game, have 14 points and can move clear with a win.

Atletico saw little of the ball against Betis but kept them at bay with shrewd defensive work and had far more chances, with Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic hitting the woodwork, although they struggled to score until Diego Simeone shuffled his pack.

Kalinic, who started in place of the injured Diego Costa, made way for Thomas Partey while Correa came on for record signing Thomas Lemar. The Argentine won possession and played a one-two with Partey before arrowing the ball home in the 74th.

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“The top teams are stronger because they have great players that can come off the bench, and those substitutes at the top teams are the ones that make the difference when a game is very tight,” said Atletico coach Simeone.

“I’m very happy that despite our injury problems we were able to win a very tough game against a team that plays very good football and who have grown a lot defensively.”

Betis started level on points with Atletico and unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions but their usual gameplan, based on monopolising possession, bore little fruit against Atletico, who are masters of defending under Simeone.

Betis coach Quique Setien said: “It’s not easy against a team that have players designed to do a job like that and we did what we could but our opponents took the game very seriously, they were highly disciplined and pressed us from the front.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris

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