Samir Nasri shone for Sevilla as they eased to an ultimately comfortable 1-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Manchester City-loanee Nasri has found a new lease of life since securing his switch to Jorge Sampaoli’s side, and his 37th-minute strike proved decisive in Tuesday’s tepid Group H encounter.
Ivaylo Petev is Dinamo’s third coach of the campaign, and his side were poor throughout, offering little challenge to the Europa League holders in difficult conditions in Zagreb.
Nasri had missed a simple chance midway through the first-half, but made amends when he swept home his third goal for the club at the culmination of a terrific counter-attack.
Sevilla – who face the rampant Atletico Madrid in their next LaLiga fixture – looked to double their tally in the second half, though Luciano Vietto’s terrible close-range effort was the nearest they came to doing so.
Dinamo went close with a collection of long-range efforts at the other end, but Sevilla held firm to secure a win that means victory in the reverse fixture at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan will send them through to the last 16 providing Juventus replicate their triumph over Lyon.
In-form Sevilla dominated the first-half, with only Filip Benkovic’s superb last-ditch tackle halting Vitolo’s progress towards goal 10 minutes in.
Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic – making his Champions League debut – was called into action shortly after, the youngster reacting sharply to prevent Mariano’s well-struck volley dipping in.
But Dinamo’s task became tougher when captain Domagoj Antolic hobbled off with a knee injury as Sevilla continued to control proceedings.
Sampaoli’s side finally carved Dinamo open in the 21st minute, Sergio Escudero teeing up Nasri, but the Frenchman could not find the target from close-range.
However, Nasri atoned for that miss eight minutes before the interval, putting Sevilla ahead with a deft finish after latching onto Mariano’s precise cross.
Mariano would have turned provider again on the stroke of half-time had Borna Sosa not stopped his cross from reaching Vitolo, who was well-placed to double Sevilla’s lead.
Benkovic had to be alert once more shortly after the restart, his fine intervention denying Vietto a simple tap-in from Escudero’s delivery.
Atleti-loanee Vietto somehow failed to double Sevilla’s tally just prior to the hour-mark, the former Villarreal striker skewing wide from six yards out.
Dinamo managed a rare foray forward with just under 20 minutes remaining, El Arabi Hillel Soudani’s deflected strike inching wide of the right-hand upright.
That chance spurred the hosts on – Sosa also trying his luck from range with a blistering effort that whistled just over – but Dinamo could not find a leveller as Sevilla claimed the points in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
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