Suárez sends Sevilla through at Rijeka's expense
Thursday, 11 December 2014
Sevilla FC 1-0 HNK Rijeka
Denis Suárez struck a fine first-half winner as the holders secured progress to the knockout phase at the expense of the Croatian visitors.
Article top media content
• Denis Suárez notches first in UEFA club competition for hosts
• Sevilla finish second; third-placed Rijeka eliminated
• Spanish side register fifth win in a row in European home games
• Visitors suffer third consecutive away defeat in Europe this term
• Round of 32 draw takes place in Nyon at 13.00CET on 15 December
Even with José Antonio Reyes at his impudent best, UEFA Europa League holders Sevilla FC were made to sweat for a 1-0 win against HNK Rijeka that secured second spot in Group G at the expense of their Croatian visitors.
It was a case of mission accomplished for Sevilla against Rijeka, though the champions had to endure a series of second-half scares – the visitors' Mato Jajalo and Andrej Kramarić particularly profligate – prior to securing a place in the round of 32 via Denis Suárez's solitary strike.
Spurred on by Reyes, the hosts tore into Rijeka, and FC Barcelona loanee Suárez capped that early dominance with the 20th-minute opener – picking up Reyes's pass before eluding two defenders and slotting past Ivan Vargić. Reyes himself could have delivered another body blow to Rijeka moments before the interval, only to be denied by the legs of the 27-year-old custodian.
Needing all three points to stay in the competition, Matjaž Kek's half-time words clearly shook his side from their slumber. Reinvigorated, the Croatian outfit pinned their hosts back in a frantic flurry – and clear chances came and went for Jajalo, Zoran Kvržić and club leading scorer Kramarić.
They would pay dearly for their wastefulness, Los Blanquirrojos soon wresting back control and seeing out a narrow victory. It was not without another nerve-shredding moment with ten minutes remaining, however. Nevertheless, Kramarić scuffed his effort with only goalkeeper Beto to beat, while there was still time for Stéphane Mbia to rattle the bar for Unai Emery's men.