Villarreal's Russian midfielder Denis Cheryshev (bottom R) vies with Sevilla's midfielder Vitolo (bottom L) during the Spanish league football match Sevilla FC vs Villarreal CF at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla on February 5, 2017.<br />JORGE GUERRERO / AFPSamir Nasri missed a second-half penalty as Sevilla squandered the chance to close to within a point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 0-0 draw home to Villarreal on Sunday.
The Frenchman’s low spot-kick was well saved by Sergio Asenjo, who then made a spectacular stop from Vicente Iborra’s late header as La Liga’s best defence held out for a point at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
Sevilla trail Madrid by three points, but the European champions have two games in hand.
Real were due to be in action later on Sunday, but their clash at Celta Vigo was postponed after bad weather damaged Celta’s Balaidos stadium.
Sevilla dominated throughout, but had to wait until the second half to enjoy their best openings.
The hosts were generously awarded a penalty just three minutes after the break when Vitolo went down in the area under pressure from Mario Gaspar.
Nasri confidently stepped up, but the on-loan Manchester City midfielder’s strike lacked the power or accuracy to beat Asenjo, who saved low to his left.
Villarreal then had a huge chance of their own to go in front on the counter-attack as Adrian Lopez rounded Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico, but could only fire into the side-netting with the goal gaping.
The visitors were rescued by the offside flag moments later when Wissam Ben Yedder fired into the roof of the net.
And it was Asenjo who proved the Villarreal hero once more seven minutes from time with a remarkable save to his right to prevent Sevilla captain Iborra’s header from close range flying into the far corner.
“We deserved more,” said Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli.
“To miss out on two points is frustrating given the dreams we have.”
Villarreal remain in sixth, four points off the top four, as Real Sociedad came from behind at a windswept Anoeta to beat Osasuna 3-2.
– Floodlight failure –
The match in San Sebastian threatened to become the third La Liga game of the weekend called off by extreme weather in the north of Spain as relentless rain fell during the first 45 minutes.
Osasuna were the keener to continue at half-time as Kenan Kodro handed them a 25th minute lead.
However, Osasuna remain without a league win since October as Sociedad roared back with three goals in 15 minutes from Raul Navas, Carlos Vela and Juanmi to move to within a point of Atletico Madrid.
Sergio Leon gave Osasuna hope with a fine solo effort 11 minutes from time and only a stunning save from Geronimo Rulli to turn Jaime Romero’s effort onto the bar denied the visitors’ an unlikely point.
And even a fleeting last minute floodlight failure couldn’t save Osasuna from defeat as they remain rooted in the relegation zone in 19th.
Sporting Gijon also failed to ease their relegation fears as a much-changed Alaves won 4-2 at El Molinon.
Alaves had the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final with Celta on Wednesday in mind, but goals Ruben Soriano, Cristian Santos, Edgar Mendez and Alexis left Sporting still five points off safety.