Third-placed Sevilla earn 1-0 win over plucky Leganes

(Reuters) - Sevilla beat visiting basement club Leganes 1-0 in an enthralling La Liga encounter on Sunday to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 games and keep up their pursuit of Champions League football for next season.

Sevilla are third in the standings on 30 points after 15 games, one point behind leaders Barcelona, who won 1-0 at Atletico Madrid in Sunday’s late game, and Real Madrid, who beat Alaves 2-1 on Saturday. The top two have a game in hand.

Sevilla defender Diego Carlos struck the only goal in the 63rd minute of an end-to-end game, blasting the ball into the roof of the net from close range inside a crowded penalty box after Jules Kounde’s overhead kick was parried.

Although they still prop up the table, Leganes have made huge improvements under Mexican coach Javier Aguirre and last week came close to causing a shock against Barcelona, eventually losing 2-1.

They produced a gutsy and bold display in Seville and created numerous chances throughout the game, with Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri almost giving them the lead with a powerful bicycle kick early in the second half.

They laid siege to Sevilla’s penalty area in added time but Julen Lopetegui’s side clung on, surviving some nervy final seconds when a VAR review took place to determine whether the visitors should be awarded a penalty for pushing in the box.

The result was Sevilla’s eighth victory in 10 games but Lopetegui was not pleased with how his side performed.

“We can’t kid ourselves, we need to improve a lot. We should have tried to keep playing attractive football and we would have created more chances, but sometimes you play badly and win and play well but you lose,” he told reporters.

“Things got very tough for us in the second half, we made mistakes and lost control, and after we scored we couldn’t stay calm. We didn’t want to end the game playing as we did but sometimes it’s what you have to do.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris