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Sevilla wins 4th straight to move closer to Champions League

MADRID (AP) — Sevilla beat Mallorca 2-0 in the Spanish league on Sunday to move within a draw of qualifying for the Champions League next season. Forwards Lucas Ocampos and Youssef En-Nesyri scored a goal in each half to give Sevilla its fourth straight win and leave the team a point away from securing fourth place and a return to Europe's top club competition.

“We knew this was a key match for us,” Sevilla midfielder Fernando said. “This victory leaves us very close to achieving our goal.” Sevilla made it to the Champions League quarterfinals in 2018 but didn’t qualify for the competition this season. It has played in the Europa League instead, where it will face Roma in the round of 16.

Sevilla, unbeaten since the league resumed following the pandemic break, moved nine points ahead of fifth-place Villarreal, which hosts Real Sociedad on Monday with a chance to get back to within six points with two rounds to go. Villarreal has the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Sevilla.

Mallorca dropped to second-to-last place, three points from safety. It could end the round four points back depending on other results. Mallorca had won two of its last three matches. Mallorca's loss meant both Eibar and Valladolid will stay in the top flight.

Ocampos opened the scoring by converting a 41st-minute penalty kick, looking one way and sending his shot the other, and En-Nesyri sealed the home win after a breakaway in the 84th. Leader Real Madrid visits midtable Granada on Monday looking to regain a four-point lead on second-place Barcelona and move closer to its first Spanish league title in three years.

Zinedine Zidane’s team would then need another victory — or two draws — from its final two matches to clinch the title. Barcelona, the two-time defending champion, stayed within a point after a 1-0 win at Valladolid on Saturday.

VALENCIA HIT Valencia's chances of making the Europa League next season took a hit with a 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Leganés. Valencia couldn't avoid the loss — its fourth in six matches — despite playing with an extra man for almost the entire second half. It also wasted a penalty kick at Butarque Stadium.

The result dropped Valencia to ninth. Fifth and sixth places will secure spots for the second-tier European club competition. Valencia's gap to sixth-place Getafe is three points. It was the second win in three matches for Leganés, which kept alive its chances of escaping relegation. The club from southern Madrid moved to 18th, three points from safety.

Leganés played with 10 men from the 54th after Jonathan Silva was sent off with a straight red card for a hard foul from behind. He was initially shown a yellow but video review determined that a red card was warranted.

Rubén Pérez scored the winner for Leganés by converting an 18th-minute penalty kick. Valencia's best chance to equalize also came from the penalty spot, but playmaker Dani Parejo had his shot saved by Leganés goalkeeper Iván Cuéllar in the 60th.

OTHER RESULTS Athletic Bilbao kept alive its own hopes of qualifying for the Europa League with a 2-1 win at Levante with a double by midfielder Raúl García. The result moved Athletic to seventh place.

It was the fourth winless match for Levante, which stayed 12th. Eibar beat last-place Espanyol 2-0 to end a three-game winless streak and is safe at seven points clear of the relegation zone. It was the seventh straight loss for Espanyol, which had its relegation sealed in the previous round. It will play in the second division after 26 consecutive seasons in the top flight.

CÁDIZ PROMOTED Cádiz lost 1-0 to Fuenlabrada on Saturday but secured its promotion to the top flight on Sunday after Zaragoza lost 4-2 to Oviedo. Cádiz hasn't played in the first division since 2005-06. It spent seven seasons in the third division since then.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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