Soccer

Sevilla loses ground after home draw with Villarreal

A missed penalty. A goal disallowed for offside. An inspired goalkeeper.

It all led to another disappointing setback for Sevilla, which was held by Villarreal to a scoreless draw at home on Sunday and missed a chance to move closer to the Spanish league lead.

Samir Nasri failed from the penalty spot in the 49th minute, Wissam Ben Yedder had his goal disallowed for offside in the 59th, and Vicente Iborra's close-range header was brilliantly saved by Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo in the 82nd, keeping Sevilla from being able to gain much ground atop the standings.

The result left Sevilla in third place with 43 points, two behind Barcelona and four behind leader Real Madrid. Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao 3-0 on Saturday, while Madrid had its Sunday game at Celta Vigo postponed because of wind damage to Celta's Balaidos' Stadium. Madrid will have two games in hand over Barcelona and Sevilla after this weekend's matches.

Sevilla was coming off a 3-1 loss at Espanyol, a result that halted its five-game winning streak in the league, which revived its hopes of contending for the title.

Villarreal, which lost only once in its last eight games, stayed in fifth place with 35 points, four behind Atletico Madrid, which beat Leganes 2-0 on Saturday at its Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Asenjo was crucial in salvaging Villarreal's point at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.

In addition to guessing right to make the stop in the penalty kick taken by Nasri, he made two superb saves from close-range headers, one in each half. The most spectacular one came after Iborra's attempt near the end.

Forward Adrian Lopez had a couple of clear chances for Villarreal, also one in each half, but failed to capitalize on them.

Ben Yedder's goal was disallowed in a close call for offside not long after Nasri's missed penalty.

The league was yet to set a date for the match between Celta and Madrid, which had to be called off after Vigo officials said they could not guarantee the "safety of spectators and players" after winds tore off parts of the roof at Balaidos Stadium.

There are few dates open to reschedule the game, as Madrid is still playing in the Champions League and Celta in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid also still has to play a league game at Valencia after it was postponed because of Madrid's participation in FIFA's Club World Cup in December.

On Friday, bad weather in northwestern Spain also forced the postponement of the match between Deportivo La Coruna and Real Betis. Deportivo's Riazor Stadium also was damaged by heavy winds.

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