FC Barcelona's bid to close within one win of leaders Real Madrid CF failed as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla FC but Villarreal CF won to move into third.
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FC Barcelona's bid to close to within one win of leaders Real Madrid CF proved unsuccessful as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla FC but Villarreal CF remain on course for a UEFA Champions League berth.
The Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium was always going to be a difficult place for Barcelona to win at in their quest to haul themselves within three points of Madrid and the Catalan club were on the back foot from the start. Víctor Valdés was forced to make two good early saves from a Daniel Alves free-kick and Luis Fabiano's header and had to be at his best to keep out a volley from Frédéric Kanouté after a deep Diego Capel cross.
But the goalkeeper was finally beaten on 35 minutes when Capel scored his first goal in the Primera División by turning in a cross from Jesús Navas at the far post. The visitors improved after the interval and Xavi Hernández equalised with 15 minutes left as he poked in after a sublime pass from Lionel Messi. Sevilla's Seydou Keita was then sent off after picking up a second booking for a foul on Messi. Madrid could move eight points ahead of their rivals if they overcome Real Valladolid CF tomorrow.
Villarreal rose to third in the table after a last-gasp goal gave them a 1-0 win at lowly Real Murcia CF in an uneventful match. The home side seemed set for a point that would have taken them out of the bottom three until Guille Franco struck to move the away side three points ahead of RCD Espanyol. Finally, RC Deportivo La Coruña earned a vital point with a 1-1 draw at home to Getafe CF as the visitors' Ikechukwu Uche (68) cancelled out Mario's own goal.