Quique Sanchez Flores had previously bemoaned his side’s sloppy play and, after ten minutes, the usually-reliable Marcao almost cost his side as he slipped on the edge of his own box. However, the Brazilian redeemed himself by blocking Sergio Camello’s shot, surviving a handball shout in the process.
Luck has evaded Sevilla for much of this season but they were handed a big slice of it just before the 20-minute mark. Isaac Romero’s through-ball was initially intended for Lucien Agoume, who was offside, but it was deflected off Aridane Hernandez into the path of Youssef En Nesyri.
The Morocco international subsequently tucked it past the onrushing Stole Dimitrievski on his first appearance since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, having conceded 36 goals in 22 LaLiga matches heading into this one, Sevilla shipped number 37 nine minutes after going ahead.
Marcos Acuna will not want to see it again, as Isi Palazon out-muscled him to get on the end of Alfonso Espino’s cross from the left and loop an effort over the head of Orjan Nyland with the help of a deflection off the Argentinian.
However, Rayo had only picked up eight points at home this season prior to kick-off and, on the stroke of half time, the Romero/En Nesyri combination decisively linked up again. It was about as route one as they come, with Nyland’s long kick finding En Nesyri via his 23-year-old strike partner before the former slotted him with aplomb.
Shortly after the interval, the hosts had a trio of chances in quick succession, but the Sevilla goal line was not breached, as a pair of Nyland saves from Camello and Palazón were preceded by Pep Chavarría heading an Ivan Balliu cross over the bar from just six yards.
The visitors were under the cosh for much of the second half, but Romero had Dimitrievski scrambling with a long-ranged effort on 70 minutes before Ocampos had a chance to put the game to bed seven minutes later. Although he timed his run to perfection to meet substitute Juanlu’s pass and also beat Dimitrievski, the post ultimately denied him.
That was the last real chance of the game as Sanchez Flores’ men held on for a vital victory that moves them up to 15th, three points above the bottom three and just four points behind Vallecano, who need to address their slump in form – they are without a win in their last five matches in all competitions