Sevilla 1-1 Lens: Ocampos’ opener not enough for los Nervionenses

As we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years, Sevilla found themselves participating in the UEFA Champions League once more – although if history is to repeat itself once again, it’ll be the UEFA Europa League trophy that they’re lifting come May.

The first challenge of their 2023/24 campaign would be RC Lens – last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up, finishing just one point behind Paris Saint-Germain.

SEV: Dmitrović; Pedrosa, Ramos, Gudelj, Sanchez; Sow, Fernando; Ocampos, Rakitić, Lamela; En-Nesyri

LEN: Samba; Medina, Danso, Gradit; Machado, Mendy, Abdul Samed, Frankowski; Fulgini, Sotoca; Wahi

RC Lens have failed to live up to the expectations that they are being held to as a result of their exceptional domestic performances last season, and their poor start to 2023/24 continued against as they travelled to the Iberian Peninsula on Wednesday.

Just nine minutes had passed when Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring for the Spanish hosts, looping a fine headed effort over Brice Samba. With a dominant Sevilla showing seemingly on the cards, a bumper home crowd began to grow impatient as los Nervionenses failed to extend their advantage.

Embed from Getty Images

It would come back to cost José Luis Mendilibar and his side, as with 24 minutes on the clock, Lens restored parity. Angelo Fulgini’s sweetly-struck free-kick from the edge of the penalty area nestled beautifully in the top-right corner, despite Marko Dmitrović’s best efforts to produce a fingertip save.

Level pegging at the interval would benefit Lens, with their Spanish opponents seemingly struggling with the shackles of expectation from the home support. Mendilibar was forced into tactical alterations as he looked to spark euphoric scenes in the stands of the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, with Dodi Lukebakio introduced just after the hour mark.

But the second half proved to be nothing more than a makeshift highlights reel for both goalkeepers, with Samba forced into action to deny Lukebakio before Dmitrović leapt to deny Morgan Guilavogui from point-blank range.

Lens will be the happier of these two sides given tonight’s result, and they’ll look to rely upon their home atmosphere when they welcome Arsenal on 3 October. Sevilla’s next task in the UEFA Champions League is a trip to PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadion.