LaLiga: Sevilla beats Elche 2-0 to be three points from Real Madrid

Madrid visits sixth-placed Villarreal on Saturday without injured striker Karim Benzema, the league top scorer with 17.

Sevilla's Argentinian midfielder Papu Gomez (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Spanish league football match between Sevilla FC and Elche CF at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.   -  AFP

Papu Gómez and Rafa Mir scored to help Sevilla beat Elche 2-0 and keep in touch with Spanish league leader Real Madrid on Friday.

Gómez broke through in the 70th minute when the Argentina midfielder slalomed past three defenders and his shot took a deflection in off an Elche player.

Anthony Martial, who made his home debut since his loan from Manchester United, crossed for substitute Mir to head in the second goal six minutes later to ensure the victory at Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

Julen Lopetegui’s side closed to within three points of Madrid.

Madrid visits sixth-placed Villarreal on Saturday without injured striker Karim Benzema, the league top scorer with 17. Three days later it will travel to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

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Emerging as the top challenger to Madrid after the struggles of defending champion Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, Sevilla added Martial and Jesús Corona to its attack in the winter transfer market. Sevilla saw the chance to add to its sole league title in 1946.

But the Andalusian side sputtered recently and was on a run of three straight draws in the league that had threatened to let Madrid run away in the title hunt that is already effectively down to just two teams.

Sevilla was eyeing yet another letdown against an Elche side that earned a 2-2 draw at Madrid two rounds prior. The best Sevilla could muster in the attack were two shots by Ivan Rakitic that Badía saved.

That was when Gómez broke the deadlock with his excellent solo effort.

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