Jules Kounde was sent off as Sevilla missed the opportunity to crank up the pressure on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Barcelona on Tuesday.
Los Nervionenses, who secured a last-gasp win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday, went ahead shortly after the half-hour mark thanks to a smart set-piece routine finished by Alejandro Gomez.
Barca took a point back to Catalonia, though, courtesy of Ronald Araujo’s header in the 45th minute, with Kounde seeing red in the 64th minute for throwing the ball at Jordi Alba’s face after a coming together between the two players.
The result meant Sevilla failed to close to within three points of Carlo Ancelotti’s leaders, while Barca passed up the chance to go fourth.
Barca dominated the early stages, with Ousmane Dembele looking particularly lively, but they were unable to truly test Yassine Bounou.
The hosts soon found their footing, though, and Rafa Mir saw an effort ruled out for offside midway through the first half.
Lopetegui’s side went ahead in the 32nd minute when Gomez superbly swept Ivan Rakitic’s low corner into Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s bottom-right corner from 12 yards.
Barca drew level from a corner of their own on the stroke of half-time, Araujo heading into the bottom-left corner from Dembele’s inviting delivery.
Sevilla’s hopes of going on to win the game suffered a blow when Kounde reacted foolishly to Alba, leaving referee Carlos del Cerro Grande with little option but to send him off.
Gavi missed a glaring chance and Dembele struck the post from distance as Barca ultimately failed to make their advantage count in the closing stages.
15 – @FCBarcelona attempted 15 shots in the first half against Sevilla (five on target), their best total in a first half of a game this season in all competitions and the best of any team in a first half in @LaLigaEN this season. Momentum. pic.twitter.com/zHRodZui5y OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 21, 2021
What does it mean? Barca fail to take advantage
Barca will be disappointed not to have claimed all three points, given their dominance in the opening 45 minutes and their numerical superiority for the final half hour.
Indeed, Xavi’s men registered 15 shots before the interval – the most of any team in a LaLiga game this season.
Sevilla cannot complain with a point after Kounde’s moment of madness, but they have now won just one of their past 29 LaLiga games against Barca.
Dembele makes a statement
The France international’s future has been the subject of intense speculation and he showed here why Barca are keen to keep hold of him. He had a game-high five shots – one of which struck the upright late on – while no player on the pitch bettered his four key passes.
Kounde sees red
Kounde was having a decent game before his tussle with Alba, with no Sevilla player gaining possession more times than his seven come full-time, but his display will be remembered for one of the more farcical dismissals LaLiga will see this season.
Barca face a trip to Mallorca after the mid-season break on January 2, while Sevilla visit Cadiz a day later.