Aspas double heaps pressure on Granada

Consadole Sapporo draw 0-0 against Gamba Osaka in J-League

Celta Vigo strengthened their grip on a Europa League qualification berth after clinching a 2-1 victory over relegation-threatened Granada at Balaidos on Monday evening.

Iago Aspas scored either side of Youssef El-Arabi’s 69th-minute equaliser to help secure all three points and extend Celta’s unbeaten run in the Primera Division to seven matches.

The hosts dominated first-half proceedings and went close to claiming the lead after just seven minutes when striker John Guidetti saw his goal-bound effort saved in the bottom-right corner by Granada keeper Andres.

However, Celta were handed the perfect opportunity to claim the lead in the 15th minute following Cristiano Biraghi’s foul on Guidetti in the danger area. Iago Aspas stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake, placing his shot in the bottom-right corner.

The Sky Blues had a great opportunity to double their lead just two minutes later when Aspas wriggled clear of marker before playing the ball into the path of Nolito, but the striker failed held his nerve as he blasted over the bar from the centre of the box.

After a lengthy spell of play devoid of any meaningful action, Granada went agonisingly close to claiming the lead in the 40th minute as Youssef El-Arabi struck the post with a headed effort from the centre of the danger area, with Jean-Sylvain Babin heading wide from the rebound.

The second was more evenly contested, with Granada giving a better account of themselves after the half-time break.

The visitors went close to drawing level through efforts from Adalberto Peñaranda and Fran Rico, before getting the breakthrough they were looking for in the 69th minute, El-Arabi converting into the bottom-right corner after some good work in the build up by Rico.

However, Aspas was proving to be constant thorn in the side of the Granada defence and the striker struck again in the 76th minute, latching onto a Nolito through pass before firing past the onrushing keeper.

Aspas had a glorious opportunity to complete his hat-trick three minutes from time, but somehow failed to hit the target from the left side of the box.