Barcelona win while Sevilla jolt Madrid 3-2
Madrid: FC Barcelona continued their incredible unbeaten run in the La Liga with a 5-1 home win over Villarreal, who themselves needed a win to assure a place in next season's Europa League, while Sevilla beat Real Madrid 3-2 to climb to the seventh spot.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde on Wednesday made several changes to his starting 11, but Andres Ineista was in the side and had a hand in Barcelona's second and third goals as the league champions went in 3-0 up at the halftime break, reported Xinhua news agency.
After Phillipe Coutinho opened the scoring in the eighth minute, Iniesta teed up Jordi Alba who passed for Paulinho to make it 2-0 and his wonderful ball over the Villarreal defense allowed Leo Messi to net his 35th league goal of the season.
A deflected shot allowed Nicola Sansone to give Villarreal hope, but Ivan Rakitic set up Ousmane Dembele for Barcelona's fourth of the game and the Frenchman netted his second of the match to make it 5-1 in the closing minutes.
The day's other game same Real Madrid suffer a 2-3 defeat away to Sevilla, which means they are now 18 points behind Barcelona and three points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid with two matches left to play.
Already missing some starters to injury and suspension, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane fielded a line-up with seven substitutes, clearly looking ahead to the May 26 Champions League final against Liverpool, reported Efe.
Real Madrid dominated possession in the early going during Wednesday night's match, but their first chance didn't come until the 15th minute and Sevilla never lost their poise. The hosts broke the deadlock in the 26th minute thanks to a goal by Wissam Ben Yedder. Only a goal-line intervention by Blancos defender Jesus Vallejo stopped Miguel Layun from making it 2-0 in the 42nd minute.
The respite was only temporary, however, as the Mexican came back to score in the final seconds of the first half.
The visitors were better at both ends of the field after the break and won a penalty on a foul by Franco Vazquez, but Sergio Ramos hit the cross-bar.
The visitors continued to press, yet the next goal went to Sevilla, a Gabriel Mercado effort that deflected off Ramos into the Real Madrid net to boost the hosts' advantage to 3-0. Borja Mayoral clawed back a goal for Real Madrid in the 87th minute and Ramos partially made up for his earlier gaffes by converting a penalty in stoppage time.
Zidane told his club's website: "There are two games to go and today we missed a good chance to pick up points. It's a real shame.
"We start work again tomorrow and tonight's result will not affect anything between now and the end of the season." With this win, Sevilla moved to the seventh spot which is a Europa League qualifying spot from the La Liga.