The opening stages of the first half were complete one-way traffic, and unsurprisingly against an Espanyol side in the midst of an eight-match winless run, it was Sevilla in control. The hosts’ pressure eventually told midway through the first half, though it did come in rather fortuitous circumstances.
Bryan Gil’s opener was initially chalked off for an offside in the build-up, but after a swift VAR check, referee Javier Alberola Rojas correctly decided that the ball fell to the feet of the seemingly offside Gil off the head of Espanyol defender Brian Olivan and awarded the goal.
Incorrectly disallowed goals were the theme of the opening half, as Espanyol hit back with a goal themselves in similar fashion moments later.
When Sergi Darder’s delivery was seemingly turned into the net by the offside Joselu, the assistant referee raised his flag to cut short the celebrations, only for Espanyol to be joyous again moments later once it transpired that Joselu hadn’t in fact touched the ball and it was Karim Rekik who put through his own net.
That spurred Espanyol into life, and they went into the break ahead thanks to an absolute rasper from Javi Puado, which flew past the desperate dive of Marko Dmitrovic and into the top corner.
Espanyol ultimately shot themselves in the foot in defence of their lead when Vinicius Souza felled Pape Gueye in the area.
Lucas Ocampos was handed the task of levelling the scores from the spot, one he duly accepted as he sent Fernando Pacheco the wrong way.
Both sides probed for a late winner, and it was ultimately Sevilla who reaped the rewards of their pressure.
Marcos Acuna’s cross was flicked home at the near post by Pape Gueye to break Espanyol hearts, but more importantly for Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side, it moved them to within striking distance of seventh place.
Michel’s men have now lost just once in their last eight La Liga fixtures as they defeated a Mallorca side who have now lost eight of their last 10 league fixtures away from home
With Girona having an outside chance of a European place, they faced early frustration against the normally defensive Mallorca team. The home side struggled to break down the Mallorca defence which was a credit to the visitors who managed to stop a talented home attack that had scored eight goals in its past four games.
Gradually, Girona came into the game through in-form striker Castellanos who saw his strike saved low down by Mallorca goalkeeper, Predrag Rajkovic. This came moments after Girona boss Michel showed frustration at on-loan attacker Rodrigo Riquelme for finding the side-netting, and not a teammate.
Despite the sturdy defence Mallorca had failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous three league fixtures and that run was maintained when in stoppage time at the end of the first period, Espinosa reacted first in the six-yard box to slam home a cross, giving the hosts the lead.
Mallorca had only won once at the Estadi Montilivi in their last five visits and they arguably started the brighter of the two sides in the second period, although without causing Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga any major concern.
Just before the hour mark, Los Piratas got closer to levelling and had the ball in the net, however, striker Vedat Muriqi was ruled offside following a VAR review.
Despite Girona’s dominance of the second half, the home side conceded a penalty with just over 10 minutes to go as Muriqi was dragged to the ground by Santiago Bueno. The Kosovan took the penalty and scored to level the game up.
However, the draw was off the table almost immediately when Castellanos kept up his fine form with a timely header to give the home side all three points, closing the gap to Real Betis to two points.
Meanwhile, Mallorca stay in 12th place with safety from relegation close to confirmed.