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La Liga: Sevilla close the gap on Barcelona and Real

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Sevilla were good enough to beat Athletic Club Bilbao 1-0 and remain on the heels of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title. Athletic, meanwhile, suffered their ninth consecutive away loss on Thursday, squandering an opportunity to snatch seventh place from Eibar.

The visitors came into the match having won only once at Seville's Sanchez Pizjuan since the turn of the century and facing a side that has won all but two of their home games this season. Between them, the two teams were missing 10 starters to injury and suspension.

Sevilla started aggressively and Steven Jovetic created a pair of early chances. On the first occasion, his header went just over the crossbar. Then Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz made the stop on the second shot.

The hosts took the lead in the 14th minute, as Vicente Iborra pounced on the rebound after Iraizoz saved Jovetic's penalty.

From that point on, however, Athletic were the better team, but their inability to finish doomed them to defeat.

The victory brings Sevilla to 55 points from 25 matches, just one less than Real Madrid -- who have a game in hand -- and two behind league leaders Barcelona.

Athletic Club, with 38 points, are still in the fight for Europa League spots.