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Ben Yedder leads a Sevilla playing for Berizzo

Madrid : Barely an hour after the elation of a historic fightback to draw 3-3 against Liverpool, news that Sevilla’s coach Eduardo Berizzo is suffering from prostate cancer was made public.
The reaction of the Sevilla players to Guido Pizarro’s 92nd minute equaliser having trailed 3-0 at half-time of their last Champions League match as they raced to embrace Berizzo was therefore all the more understandable, if tinged with sadness.
Berizzo will not be on the bench as the Andalusians look to seal their place in the last 16 away at Slovenian champions Maribor on Wednesday, as he recovers from a successful operation carried out on his tumour last week.
However, Sevilla’s players have been fighting hard for their coach ever since learning of his condition in the days before the Liverpool clash.
In the final match before his operation, Berizzo masterminded another three-goal fightback from 2-0 down at Villarreal to win 3-2.
Meanwhile, his assistant Ernesto Marcucci has overseen victories over Cartagena in the Copa del Rey and Deportivo la Coruna on league duty in the past week.
“We are working with the same seriousness as if he was here with us,” said defender Gabriel Mercado.
Sevilla need just a point at Maribor to secure their place in the knockout phase and will even make it through with defeat, so long as Liverpool don’t lose at home to Spartak Moscow in the other game in Group E.
Their position just a point behind the five-time European champions is owed in large part to the goals of Wissam Ben Yedder.
The French forward, who has turned down Tunisia’s offer to face the likes of England and Belgium at next year’s World Cup, has scored eight goals in seven Champions League games this season.
While Pizarro’s late strike ultimately earned a thrilling point two weeks ago, it was Ben Yedder who inspired the comeback with a quickfire double in the second-half to send belief coursing through the Sanchez Pizjuan.
It is thanks to Ben Yedder that Sevilla even made it to the group stages as he scored in each leg when the Spaniards edged past Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir 3-2 on aggregate in qualifying.
Ben Yedder also netted a hat-trick when Maribor visited the south of Spain back in September, but has been far less prolific in La Liga as his opener against Deportivo on Saturday was just his third of the campaign.
“We have qualification in our hands and now it is the decisive game,” Ben Yedder told Sevilla’s Youtube channel.
“Sealing our qualification is very important for the club and everyone involved,” added Mercado.
Sevilla certainly won’t lack motivation to make the last 16 as they hope Berizzo will be back in charge come the knockout stages in February.

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