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Ivan Rakitić Haunts Real Madrid To Hand LaLiga Control Back To Atlético

Handed the opportunity to return to the LaLiga summit for the first time since the conclusion of Matchday 4, Real Madrid stumbled to a 2-2 draw at home against Sevilla to hand control back to Atlético with only three games remaining.

Real’s defense was the major headache for Zinedine Zidane heading into this one with Sergio Ramos, Raphaël Varane, Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy and Lucas Vázquez all unavailable. But the club can always count on Karim Benzema, and the striker appeared to have given Los Blancos a 13th-minute lead with a header off Álvaro Odriozola’s deep cross, but the fullback had slipped offside before receiving possession.   

Given a new lease on life, Sevilla then punished Real in the 22nd minute with a well-worked set piece. The free kick was initially played short to Jesús Navas, who worked a yard of space before picking out Ivan Rakitić. The Croatian knew what to do with it, sending a cushioned header to the feet of Fernando. 

The 33-year-old veteran took his time with it and chopped Casemiro to the floor before finishing beyond Thibaut Courtois.   

An equalizer looked imminent in the 65th minute when Luka Modrić released Toni Kroos in the area with a scooped pass, and the German played a low ball across the face of goal to Vinícius Júnior but the young Brazilian couldn’t sort his feet out and bumbled an effort off the post.

But two minutes later, Benzema won possession for Real at midfield and immediately put Sevilla under pressure. The ball eventually made its way to Kroos at the top of the area, and he spotted an unmarked Marco Asensio for the well-placed finish.

We were then treated to a period of absolute madness in the 75th minute when a Sevilla corner kick ended with Real Madrid breaking the other way and Benzema racing clear on goal. Sevilla keeper Bono took him out for a clear penalty, but the VAR intervened to show that Éder Militão had handled Sevilla’s corner at the other end. 

We went from a Real penalty, potential 2-1 advantage and control of the title race to a Sevilla penalty that was converted by Rakitić. 

But Sevilla couldn’t claim all three points as Kroos’ long-range strike in the fourth-minute of stoppage time took a deflection off Eden Hazard to beat Bono.

Casemiro had one final chance to win it at the death, but his shot from the top of the box curled narrowly wide. The draw must’ve felt especially good for Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui, who was only given 14 matches in charge of Real Madrid before getting fired.

Atlético’s advantage at the top remains two points, and Los Colchoneros have matches remaining against fifth-place Real Sociedad on Wednesday (May 12), 12th-place Osasuna (May 16) and 17th-place Valladolid (May 23). 

La Liga table

Where things stand with three games remaining.

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