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Maribor prove a match for Sevilla

NK Maribor 2-2 Sevilla FC
Substitute Dare Vršič levelled the scores at the death as the Slovenian champions claimed something of a moral victory.

Maribor celebrate taking the lead against Sevilla
Maribor celebrate taking the lead against Sevilla ©AFP/Getty Images

A 2-2 draw felt a lot like a victory for Slovenian champions NK Maribor, Dare Vršič levelling nine minutes from the end after Sevilla FC looked to have stolen a march on their hosts in this UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie.

The substitute blasted past Javier Varas from an angle to delight a packed house at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, and while there were chances for the Spanish side to steal a first-leg win – Piotr Trochowski hitting the bar before Jasmin Handanovič saved Vicente Iborra's shot – Ante Šimundža's men had cause for celebration at the whistle.

Sevilla strove to assert their dominance after a cautious start, skipper Ivan Rakitić getting his eye in with a couple of searching passes, yet found goalscoring chances hard to come by. Maribor, meanwhile, were eager to pounce on any mistakes, Jean Philippe Mendy firing narrowly wide after wrong-footing Federico Fazio and Dejan Mezga's effort proving a little too tame to trouble Varas.

Maribor then forged ahead on 33 minutes, Martin Milec steaming through to collect Mezga's diagonal pass and delivering the ball to Tavares, who found the net from ten metres. With the home crowd in raptures, Sevilla floundered for a while, but Kevin Gameiro nearly equalised before the break, Handanovič saving his cheeky back-heeled effort.

The visiting striker was denied again within seconds of the restart as Sevilla tore into their hosts, and got on the scoresheet soon afterwards, sliding in at the far post to meet Rakitić's ball from the right. Damjan Bohar might have restored Maribor's advantage just after the hour, missing the target from a good position, and that appeared a costly error when Fazio got his head to a Rakitić corner 18 minutes from the end.

Rakitić and substitute Marko Marin passed up opportunities to kill the game, setting the stage for Vršić to give the underdogs what felt like their day.

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