Sevilla are now just outside of European places by goal differential alone, thanks to a good performance on Sunday night against Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine made it tough late with a couple of second half goals, but Sevilla were the better team for most of the night and did well to hang on to a 3-2 win.
The Rojiblancos struggled at the beginning of Gregorio Manzano's stint as their manager, but to his credit, they have improved considerably since the winter break and are now on the brink of getting back into Europe next season. For Valencia, a top four finish no longer looks like a certainty. They appeared to have a trip to the Champions League locked up weeks ago, but they now sit just six points in front of Athletic Bilbao.
After Ivan Rakitic and Alvaro Negredo scored two great goals for Sevilla in the first half, it looked like there was no way back for Valencia. They started the second half very well, though, and Carlos Marchena brought them back into the game with a great half volley goal in the 56th minute. This happened two minutes after Giuseppe Rossi came on for Nilmar, a move which made Villarreal look much better. However, Romaric of Sevilla quickly answered, finishing well with his left foot from 15 yards out, finishing a great flick-on by Negredo.
Rossi would answer with a fantastic left-footed shot of his own from outside of the box in he 73rd minute, but that would be the end of the scoring on the day. Rossi had a chance to equalize in the 77th, but the ball somehow bounced across the face of goal harmlessly and not into the back of the net when he hit the inside of the post.
The match would turn into a physical and rather unsporting affair from that point forward, with lots of hard fouls and players attempting to manipulate the referee. Carlos Marchena was shown a yellow card in the 79th minute for a hard foul on Julien Escuede, and Romaric was shown yellow for his persistent harassment of the referee afterwards for not showing a red card. However, Marchena would eventually be sent off, picking up a second yellow card for another poor tackle in the 85th minute.
With Marchena suspended and Nilmar off form, Villarreal's upcoming fixture against Getafe is hardly a gimme. Sevilla should be able to win next week, as they face the league's last placed team, Almeria.