Unai Emery’s Sevilla pulled off a 2-1 victory over Barça this afternoon in a highly entertaining game at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. Michael Krohn-Dehli and Vicente Iborra hit Barça with a double blow early in the second half before Neymar reduced the difference fifteen minutes from the end with a dubious penalty. Sevilla held on for the three points but Barça will curse their luck during the game as Neymar, Luis Suárez and Sandro were all denied by the woodwork.
Luis Enrique restored Claudio Bravo in the Barça goal and the Chilean generally gave a safer looking performance than those offered by Ter Stegen in recent weeks. Bravo goal was soon under threat as Sevilla began strongly with Iborra sending a dipping volley over the bar after just 70 seconds. Dani Alves was the other noticeable name left off the Barça teamsheet as Sergi Roberto was again prefered at right-back. The youngster was seen less going forward than in other games besides an early run where he just failed to connect with Suárez’s return pass.
Javier Mascherano played the holding role in midfield alongside Rakitic and Busquets while Munir was chosen to accompany Suárez and Neymar in attack. Neymar had a decent effort early on pushed away by Sevilla keeper Sergio Rico. Then, in the ninth minute, Rakitic crossed for Neymar who nodded the ball down but Munir hooked his shot over. Jeremy Mathieu got the role of partnering Piqué in defence but both struggled against Kevin Gameiro who managed his first effort on goal with a far post header in the 11th minute which Bravo showed good reflexes to dive to his left and parry.
The game was open with both teams stretched by the pace, and there was little seen of Barça’s paused possession game. There were chances at both ends but Suárez had his shot blocked while Mathieu made a last ditch intervention to thwart Iborra. Bravo needed to be quick off his line to force Gameiro wide before blocking the striker’s attempt to cross. Then in the 22nd minute Munir forced the ball through to Suárez who found the net from an offside position, only for the play to be called back by referee Gil Manzano for a foul on Munir. Neymar curled the free-kick round the wall and the ball incredibly hit the post before bouncing off the diving Rico, hitting the post again and then rolling agonisingly along the goal line. Piqué and Coke raced in but neither could reach the ball which rolled past the other post and Suárez failed to squeeze it back in.
Sevilla responded with Krychowial glancing a header wide from Krohn-Dehli’s free-kick and Bravo needed to be well positioned to stop Tremoulinas’s 20-yard drive. Neymar was leading most of Barça’s attacks but it was Suárez who was next to hit the woodwork, curling a Nolito-like effort from the left that just failed to dip into the far top corner. Then, just before half-time, Rakitic scooped a splendid pass through for Suárez but Kolooziejczak was alert to dart across and clear.
It was a surprise to arrive goalless to half-time and the frenetic rhythm continued after the break with Gameiro forcing a splendid save from Bravo after just 11 seconds though from an offside position. Barça went straight up the other end and Neymar seemed to have a chance but he overelaborated, allowing white shirts the chance to get goalside and block. Piqué had a header saved then Krohn-Dehli shot weakly wide at the other end.
A goal might have come at either end but Sevila finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Jordi Alba missed a challenge near the half-way line allowing a Sevilla attack with Gameiro down the right. Alba couldn’t catch Gameiro and Mathieu came across but failed to block the striker’s progress. Gameiro crossed low, Sergi Roberto couldn’t cut it out, and Krohn-Dehli arrived at the far post to give Bravo no chance.
Two minutes later Piqué needed to make a smart block to deny Gameiro as Barça struggled to react to the goal. Then, in the 58th minute, Krohn-Dehli crossed from the left, and Mathieu was slow to move out, leaving Iborra and Gameiro onside and Iborra grazed a header inside the post. Two-nil down with half an hour to go and Luis Enrique called for Alves and Sandro to replace Mathieu and Munir with Sergi Roberto moving into midfield and Mascherano into central defence.
Neymar led the charge to try and get Barça back in the game, forcing three good saves from Rico in quick succession. Gil Manzano ignored Suárez’s appeal for a penalty after Kolooziejczak tugged on his shoulder but in the 73rd minute the referee blew an extremely dubious penalty after Sandro shot the ball against Tremoulinas’s arm. Rico guessed the direction of Neymar’s penalty but the Brazilian’s low shot had enough power to find the net and put Barça back in with a chance.
Sevilla were now forced back and Sandro looked like scoring from Suárez cross in the 79th minute but Tremoulinos did enough to force the striker into shooting against the post. There were more shots, from Sandro, Sergi Roberto, Suárez and Rakitic but Sevilla’s defence was densely populated now and the efforts failed to find their way through. Neymar’s final effort, a disappointing drive well over the bar was Barça’s 23rd shot of the game. If you can only score from a penalty then you probably don’t deserve much more though the damn posts also played their part in Barça’s defeat.
Sevilla: Rico; Coke, Kolooziejczak, Andreolli, Tremoulinas (Mariano m88); Krychowiak, N’Zonzi; Krohn-Dehli, Iborra (Reyes m70), Vitolo; Gameiro (Llorente m72).
Barça: Bravo 7; Sergi Roberto 6, Pique 6, Mathieu 5 (Alves m60, 6), Alba 5.5; Rakitic 6, Mascherano 6, Busquets 5.5; Munir 5 (Sandro m60, 5.5), Suarez 6, Neymar 7.5.
Goals: m52 Krohn-Dehli 1-0, m58 Iborra 2-0, m74 Neymar (pen) 2-1.
Yellow cards: m19 Krychowiak, m22 Andreolli, m28 Busquets, m32 Kolooziejczak, m48 Mathieu, m60 Alba, m75 Llorente,