Sevilla made it a hat-trick of Spanish sides in the Champions League last 16 after a 1-1 draw with NK Maribor on Wednesday.
Sevilla needed to beat Maribor in order to make sure of their place in the knockout stages, although they could still progress with a defeat if Liverpool beat Spartak Moscow.
The Andalusians famously came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Liverpool in their last Champions League match, inspired by Eduardo Berizzo’s half-time announcement that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
They went on to win their last two games under his assistant Ernesto Marcucci but nonetheless struggled to find their usual rhythm in Slovenia and were pegged back early on by Marcos Tavares’ back-post header.
An equaliser was eventually found, but not until the 75th minute, when substitute Ganso saw his shot squirm through Jasmin Handanovic’s grasp.
“We didn’t find the goal and we got a little nervous,” Marcucci said after the game.
“We weren’t as fluid as usual and the whole context influenced us. They waited for us to make a mistake and there was very little space.
“We thank God that Ganso managed to score so we were able to go through to the round.
“We needed to get the ball moving and that’s why Ganso came on. The game was passing us by because there was no space. That’s why we also brought on Jesus Navas.
“Going through was our objective. The worst-case scenario would’ve been a defeat. I think we deserved the win, but the important thing was to pick up three points and qualify for the next round.
“The team were at a very high level against Liverpool. Now we’re here, enjoying this moment.
“Last-16 opponents? Choosing them at this point would be too comfortable on our part.
“We’re not always among the 16 best in Europe. Maybe they don’t want to play against Sevilla either!”
NK Maribor 1-1 Sevilla
Tavares 10 (M) Ganso 75 (S)
NK Maribor: Handanovic; Milec, Suler, Bilong, Viler; Bajde, Pihler (Vrsic 79), Vrhovic, Kabha, Bohar (Hotic 90); Tavares
Sevilla: Sergio Rico; Mercado (Navas 69), Kjaer, Lenglet, Escudero; Krohn-Dehli (Ganso 59), Pizarro, Banega; Sarabia, Ben Yedder (Muriel 76), Joaquin Correa
Referee: Hategan (ROM)
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