18.09.2022 21:05 h

Villarreal battle back to keep pressure on Sevilla and Lopetegui

Alex Baena's strike earned Villarreal a 1-1 draw against Sevilla in La Liga on Sunday, keeping the pressure on the Andalusians' coach Julen Lopetegui.

The draw leaves Sevilla provisionally 15th after six games, while it moves Unai Emery's Villarreal into sixth place.

Emery, a three-time Europa League winner with Sevilla, might sympathise with his opposite number but his team fought back to frustrate Lopetegui's hopes of an impressive away win and could have won it with a flurry of late chances.

Sevilla took the lead in the eighth minute when Isco beat the offside trap and cut a ball back for Oliver Torres to slide home inside the far post.

Villarreal pressed high and Sevilla found it hard to bring the ball out, with Lopetegui urging his team to play more calmly.

Sevilla goalkeeper Bono denied Samuel Chukwueze and Villarreal's Dani Parejo hit the bar as the hosts tried to force an equaliser at Levante's Ciutat de Valencia Stadium, where they are playing until the end of the year because of building works at their home ground.

Bono had to be replaced at half-time injured. His replacement Marko Dmitrovic soon was forced to pick the ball out of his net.

Baena, on as a substitute, was played in through the middle brilliantly by Francis Coquelin and prodded home for his third league goal of the season.

Marcos Acuna cleared off the line after Baena burst inside from the left and beat the goalkeeper, while at the other end Jesus Navas blazed an effort narrowly over.

With 10 minutes to go Sevilla's summer arrival Alex Telles hacked down Yeremy Pino but a penalty was cancelled after VAR showed the winger was offside in the build up.

Villarreal should have earned a late win but Arnaut Danjuma hooked an effort over from close range with the goal gaping after a fizzing cross from Pino.

Elsewhere, Borja Iglesias celebrated being called up to Luis Enrique's Spain squad with a brace, to earn Real Betis a 2-1 win over Girona.

Arnau Martinez sent the visitors ahead in the seventh minute but Iglesias netted a penalty to level and then charged through to tuck home the winner in the 71st minute.

Betis rose to third, continuing their strong start to the season.

Real Sociedad beat Espanyol 2-1 thanks to goals from Alexander Sorloth and Brais Mendez.

Edu Exposito levelled Sorloth's opener but Mendez, in good form with four goals in six games, netted what proved the winning goal after 29 minutes.

Real Sociedad moved eighth, and the defeat left Espanyol 17th, on four points from six games.