(Reuters) - A stoppage-time strike from Wissam Ben Yedder allowed 10-man Sevilla to avoid an embarrassing defeat to lowly Leganes on Sunday as they snatched a 1-1 draw but still lost ground in their chase of La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Former Athletic Bilbao midfielder Mikel Vesga headed 16th-placed Leganes in front on a cold Madrid afternoon where conditions worsened as the game progressed due to thick fog which hampered visibility on the pitch.
Sevilla's chances of getting back in the game were hit when midfielder Franco Vazquez was given a straight red card at halftime for dissent following a dispute in the tunnel, just after Gabriel Mercado had been booked.
Sevilla's Ibrahim Amadou hit the post late in the game while striker Youssef En-Nesyri hammered the crossbar for Leganes, who despite their struggles this season have proved a handful for the league's best sides at their Butarque stadium, beating Barcelona in September and holding Atletico Madrid to a draw.
They were denied a famous victory when Roque Mesa delivered a deep cross to pick out French forward Ben Yedder who headed home unmarked from close range, and the hosts' frustrations deepened when they had a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) appeal for a penalty turned down.
The draw resulted in Sevilla dropping from second place to third on 32 points, five adrift of leaders Barca and two from Atletico, who beat Celta Vigo and Espanyol respectively on Saturday.
Sevilla are three points above European champions Real Madrid, who have a league game in hand due to being in the Club World Cup final on Saturday, when they were crowned champions for a record fourth time after beating Al Ain 4-1.
Sevilla coach Pablo Machin said Vazquez had been dismissed for complaining to the referee that Allan Nyom had not been shown a second yellow card when he fouled Vazquez at the end of the first half.
"I found out about everything inside the dressing room, I was very surprised. I'm sure Vazquez thought he was right but it's not a motive to lose his head and say something which got him sent off," Machin said.
The coach also praised his side for getting something out of a game which looked lost.
"We showed once again that we are a true team and we overcame the sending off and looked for our chance. With Wissam's goal we leave with a point that doesn't quite feel like a victory, but it shows that this team has spirit and courage to salvage a draw at a ground where Barcelona lost."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar)