En-Nesyri scores in added time against Rayo
Match reports


Two first-half goals gave the visitors a commanding lead but a stirring showing in the second period saw Sevilla FC fight back through strikes from Djibril Sow and Youssef En-Nesyri to earn a deserved point after late drama at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán
Cuerpo Superior

It was very much a game of two halves as Sevilla overturned a two-goal deficit to secure a share of the points in the last game before the October international break. After Óscar Valentín and Álvaro García put the visitors in control early on, the home side were then unrecognisable to turn it around in a much-improved second-half showing. A brilliant Sow goal from distance and a last-minute En-Nesyri header ensured the hosts avoided defeat in front of magnificent home support.  

In the lead-up to the match, Sevilla head-coach José Luis Mendilibar warned that Rayo Vallecano, coming into the game on the back of three consecutive draws, would look to attack his side's box at every opportunity. The opening stages confirmed the manager’s pre-match premonitions as the visitors threatened from the off, although their early forays were well dealt with by Gudelj and the returning Badé at the heart of the defence. But the pressure was building and, after Nyland saved sharply from Isi Palazón, it ultimately told in the 21st minute as Óscar Valentín headed into an empty net after a ball was swung in from wide and came back off the post. Five minutes later, Rayo gave themselves breathing space as Álvaro García doubled the advantage with a deft finish in acres of space on the left. Now enjoying the comfort of a two-goal cushion, the visitors slowed the game down, controlled possession and bought fouls as Mendilibar's team grew increasingly urgent in their attempts to get back into the game. 

These efforts nearly paid off as Sevilla were inches away from halving the deficit soon after, with Gudelj’s header somehow staying out after a goal-mouth scramble. In truth though, the impressive Rayo were good value for their two-goal lead after half an hour, underlined by Mendilibar bringing on Rakitic in place of Fernando in a bid to get a foothold in the game, the Brazilian responding by heading straight down the tunnel. The midfielder's reaction was reflective of the growing frustration inside the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán and, when the half-time whistle blew, the home fans voiced their disapproval of the refereeing performance as the jeers rang out. 

With the hosts needing a comeback for the ages, more changes were made at the break and Marcos Acuña, who had made his first start since August, was replaced by Pedrosa after a tough half up against the livewire Palazón. Lucas Ocampos was also introduced at the interval and provided an instant injection of quality up top and gave the home team a reliable outlet on the right flank. Still, no one who had witnessed the first half could have predicted quite how immediate that impact would be. 

The moment arrived within five minutes of the restart as Sow scored his first Sevilla goal with a wonderful effort from outside the box

The Swiss fended off a challenge before cutting inside and curling a sumptuous strike into the far right corner to leave the full-stretch Dimitrievski with no chance. The home supporters erupted and the game was alive. Juanlu, building on his strong recent form, could be seen signalling to an already vociferous crowd to increase the volume further and those in the stands needed no encouragement, turning the heat up on the Rayo players who were now camped in their own box. Facing a mixture of crosses from wide and intricate passing in an onslaught on their goal, the visitors were unable to get on the ball. Palazón, so effective in the first period, was now struggling to get a touch with the complexion of the game completely transformed. 

As Sevilla sought to level the scores, time was running out and the game becoming visibly stretched as both sides began to tire. The stage was set for a thrilling finale. But, as Palazón departed in one of three Rayo changes, the visitors appeared to have effectively taken the sting out of the game and Sevilla's hunt for the equaliser was disrupted. When late introduction Rafa Mir spurned a glorious opportunity deep into the six-minutes of added time, it seemed certain Mendilibar's team would head into the international break on the back of defeat.

However, a Rakitic corner offered one final chance in the dying seconds, and it fell to the right man. Goalkeeper Nyland was up for the delivery in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the game but it was Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri who rose highest to power home a 96th minute header. This completed a superb comeback, sparking jubilant scenes inside the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán as the home supprters reached boiling point.

Although not a vintage all-round performance, this was a vital show Sevilla's mettle going forward and the aim will be to build on the point when the players return to action against Real Madrid in two weeks time. 


2. SEVILLA FC: Nyland, Juanlu (Jesús Navas, minute 78), Badé, Gudelj, Acuña (Pedrosa, minute 46), Fernando (Rakitic, minute 37), Sow, Suso (Rafa Mir, minute 81), Óliver Torres (Ocampos, minute 46), Lukebakio and En-Nesyri.

2. RAYO VALLECANO: Dimitrievski, Balliu, Lejeune, Aridane, Espino, Ciss, Óscar Valentín (Kike Pérez, minute 83), Isi (Chavarría, minute 83), Álvaro García (De Frutos, minute 83), Raúl de Tomás (Camello, minute 69) y Trejo (Unai López, minute 55).

GOALS: 0-1, minute 21: Óscar Valentín; 0-2, minute 26: Álvaro García; 1-2, minute 50: Sow; 2-2, minute 90+6: En-Nesyri.

REFEREE: Isidro Díaz de Mera Escuderos. Bookings for Gudelj, Sow, Suso, Jesús Navas, Juanlu, Aridane and Kike Pérez.