USA About: Barcelona Publish: 12/19/2021 Edit: 12/19/2021 Author: Gardener
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Lucas Ocampos' late goal helped Sevilla beat Atlético Madrid 2-1 and kept pressure on Spanish league leaders Real Madrid on Saturday while Barcelona's young talents brought in the much-needed victory. Runner-up Seville moved up to five points on Madrid before playing against Cádiz on Sunday without multiple virus-infected players. Barcelona haven't been fighting for the title in a long time, but their fans could at least believe in a better future for the team after 17-year-old Gavi Páez teamed up with two other teenagers to beat a resilient Elche 3-2 and to finish a three-game winning run. Ferrán Jutlgà and Gavi scored their first goals for Barcelona, taking them to a 2-0 half-time lead. Elche scored two goals early in the second half, but Gavi assisted 19-year-old Nico González and scored the winning goal in the 85th minute. "The only thing I thought was that the ball had to go either way," said Nico of his winner. A Sevilla injured several players got off to a good start after Ivan Rakitic scored a striker from far outside the box seven minutes after kick-off. Atlético defender Felipe Augusto headed a corner kick from Thomas Lemar to equalize in 33rd place. Atlético had the better of Sevilla for most of the second half but couldn't advance. After Ocampos scored a goal from a corner against the flow of the game, João Félix almost stunned Sevilla in stoppage time with a long lifter that hit the bar. Diego Simeone's team fell back to fifth place - behind the surprising Rayo Vallecano in fourth place - 13 points behind Madrid. Jutlgà, 22, who made his Barcelona debut as a substitute in the last round, was a surprising choice by Xavi Hernández to start as the wrong nine instead of injured striker Memphis Depay. The choice paid off when Jutlgà headed a cross from Ousmane Dembelé after a corner in the 16th minute. Three minutes later, Gavi quickly doubled the lead with a dazzling evasive dribble. It was then that Gavi met substitute Nico. Gavi exchanged passes with Dembelé in the penalty area and found Nico with a cool shot. "I played here when I was 17 and I was scared," said Xavi. And Gavi, the way he plays, is priceless for the team. What he does makes the difference, hits and prepares another goal. Barcelona's first win in four games in all competitions put them in seventh place, still 15 points away from Madrid. Rayo held his top league home record after beating Alavés 2-0 for his eighth win this season at the Vallecás Stadium. Gerard Moreno scored two goals and set up another when Villarreal won their first league away win 3-1 at Real Sociedad.
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