La Liga wrap: Sevilla halt Barca charge

Barcelona’s lead in La Liga has been cut to just five points after the Spanish champions were held to a 1-1 at Sevilla on Sunday.

But the visitors will rue a costly mistake from Sergio Busquets, whose infringement during Lionel Messi’s eighth-minute free kick ensured the resulting goal would be ruled out.

Substitute Bojan Krkic had put Barca ahead on the half hour with his first goal in three months, but Sevilla midfielder Jesus Navas stole a point for the hosts with an equaliser four minutes after the restart.

Bojan, who replaced injured striker Pedro in the 14th minute, calmly slotted into the net after Dani Alves brought down Andres Iniesta’s high cross and slid his pass across for the 20-year-old starlet.

Barca should have gone into the break more than one goal ahead given the chances they were afforded, and Navas made them pay early in the second half after rising highest to meet Alvaro Negredo’s floated cross.

The Spanish champions again had the better of the opportunities, with Iniesta hitting the bar and Sevilla clearing a shot off the line, but Barca’s lack of finishing touch proved their undoing as they surrendered two valuable points.

The result means Real Madrid are now within five points of the league leaders, while Sevilla remain eighth but move within two points of the Europa League places.

Elsewhere, Villarreal suffered a setback in their pursuit of the top three when they were held 1-1 at home by nine-man Sporting Gijon.

Giuseppe Rossi put Villarreal ahead in the 29th minute, but despite losing defenders Jose Angel (65th minute) and Rafael Sastre (90) to red cards Sporting were still able to match it with their opponents.

Not only that, they were also able to level in the dying seconds thanks to a spot kick from Diego Castro.

Villarreal remain three points behind third-placed Valencia and a Champions League berth.

In other results, Mallorca’s unlikely European hopes were dented with a 1-1 draw at Levante, while Espanyol trumped 10-man Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 to climb to fifth on the table.

Ten-man Osasuna kept their dream of top-flight survival alive by defeating Racing Santander 3-1, and Malaga also boosted their hopes of staying up with a plucky 2-0 win at Real Sociedad.