Sevilla rallies to move closer to Champions League spot

Sevilla players celebrate after scoring during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match. (Luis Tejido/EPA)

MADRID — Sevilla rallied in the second half to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in the Spanish league on Thursday, moving closer to a Champions League berth.

The come-from-behind victory in Bilbao left Sevilla tied on points with third-place Atletico Madrid and increased its gap to fifth-place Villarreal to six points with three rounds to go. Only the top four qualify for next season’s Champions League.

It was the third league win in a row for Sevilla. It had drawn four straight before that.

Ninth-place Athletic, which lost ground in the fight for a Europa League spot, opened the scoring through Ander Capa in the 29th but the visitors bounced back with goals by Ever Banega from a free kick in the 69th and Munir El Haddadi from a header in the 74th.

League leader Real Madrid hosts relegation-threatened Alaves needing a win to regain a four-point advantage over second-place Barcelona, which on Wednesday got to within a point of the top after defeating last-place Espanyol 1-0.

KUBO THRIVES

Japanese teenager Takefusa Kubo scored late to help Mallorca beat Levante 2-0 at home, keeping alive the team’s hopes of escaping relegation.

The 19-year-old Kubo, who is playing on a loan from Real Madrid, hadn’t scored since a league match in November. Colombian forward Cucho Hernandez also scored for Mallorca.

The victory moved Mallorca within three points of Alaves, which has lost five straight ahead of its trip to face leader Real Madrid on Friday.

Mallorca has won two of its last three matches. It next visits Sevilla.

Levante stayed in 12th place.

RELEGATION FIGHT

Eibar stayed four points from safety after being held to a 0-0 draw at home by second-to-last-place Leganes.

Leganes stayed six points from safety with three rounds to go.

Last-place Espanyol was relegated for the first time after 26 straight seasons in the top flight after the loss at city rival Barcelona on Wednesday.

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