Sevilla edge closer to Champions League

Sevilla's Ever Banega (No 10) scores during the La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao.
Sevilla's Ever Banega (No 10) scores during the La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao.

Ever Banega inspired Sevilla to come from behind and beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Thursday in La Liga to strengthen their bid for a Champions League qualifying spot.

The Argentine midfielder scored a brilliant free kick in the 69th minute before setting up Munir El Haddadi for the second, turning the game on its head after Ander Capa's opener.

Banega, who is leaving the club at the end of the season to join Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab, will be dearly missed by Sevilla.

The win takes them level with third-place Atletico Madrid on 63 points from 35 games, six ahead of fifth-place Villarreal who had been hoping to wrestle away the Andalusians' spot.

"It was a hard-fought win at a difficult place to go, our objectives is to get to the Champions League," said Banega.

"It's true in the first half we had some good play but didn't do the damage we wanted. We knew how to (turn it around) and we're happy with this.

"Nothing's confirmed, we have to keep fighting, there's a few weeks to go."

Athletic, ninth, are three points behind Real Sociedad in seventh, with this defeat hampering their chase for a Europe League place.

"We didn't have the initiative in the game but we were comfortable in defence," said Capa. "But in the second half there was a debatable free-kick and a cross that I thought (I was fouled on).

"We have to focus on the game against Levante on Sunday and try and get the three points. If you don't win you're angry. The only thing to do is work and think about the next game."

Elsewhere Real Mallorca earned a 2-0 win over Levante while Eibar and Leganes drew 0-0.

Japanese teenager Takefusa Kubo scored late to keep alive Mallorca's hopes of escaping relegation.

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

Mallorca are now within three points of Alaves, who face Real Madrid on Friday.

Mallorca, 18th, remain above second-from bottom Leganes after the Madrid side drew 0-0 with 15th-placed Eibar, who sit only four points above the relegation zone.

Australian Associated Press