As in the Czech Republic two weeks ago, it was honours even again between Sevilla FC and FC Slovan Liberec as the pair played out a 1-1 draw in Group H.
Dominant for much of a physical encounter against a rugged Liberec side, Sevilla took the lead their first-half display merited via a stunning set-piece from Diego Perotti. Despite maintaining their control after the interval, the home side's profligacy was punished by a spectacular counterattacking equaliser from Liberec's David Pavelka – yet they still could have won it at the death had Cala's effort not struck a post.
Thanks in good measure to the influence of defensive midfielder Stéphane Mbia, Sevilla directed proceedings. On 19 minutes, marauding right-back Coke zipped an effort just over the bar, and a half-volley from the lively Bryan Rabello then drew a fine low save from Lukáš Hroššo, before the opening goal came close to the half-hour. Upended just outside the box by Liberec skipper Radoslav Kováč, Sevilla's No10 Perotti dusted himself off and arrowed the resulting free-kick into the top-left corner.
After the interval, the probing of local hero José Antonio Reyes and Perotti kept Liberec pinned back. Reyes slipped a clever pass to striker Raul Rusescu on 51 minutes for a near-post drive tipped wide by Hroššo, before the rangy Mbia went close from successive corners.
More quick-thinking from Reyes and Perotti brought two golden chances, but both were wasted – which proved costly for the Andalusian club on 71 minutes, when they were undone by a ruthless counter. Liberec midfielder Pavelka exploited the advanced position of defender Federico Fazio, racing into the space and slamming a long-range shot past Javi Varas.
Despite the stalemate, section leaders Sevilla are slowly nearing the knockout stage, with Liberec determinedly clinging to their coattails two points back.
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