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La Liga: Sevilla and Betis bury the hatchet as the Andalusia derby returns

It’s been one of Spanish soccer’s bitterest rivalries in recent years. But while the sparks flew when Seville’s Big Two met again on Saturday, the bottles didn’t.

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Sevilla and Betis - the best of enemies.

Long before Real Madrid’s Pepe stamped on Lionel Messi’s hand and José Mourinho poked his finger into the eye of Barça’s Tito Vilanova, a bottle was thrown from the stands of the Ruiz de Lopera stadium which would knock Juande Ramos – then Sevilla manager – unconscious.

It was to mark the height of the rivalry between Sevilla and Betis in recent times, when weeks of growing tension between the two sides finally came to a head at the latter’s stadium during a Copa del Rey clash.

El derbi sevillano has always divided the Andalusian city but never more so than in 2007. Less than a month before the Ramos incident, a Liga clash also took an unsavoury turn, but this time not on the pitch or in the stands, but in the presidential palco where club presidents almost came to blows.

The fuse was lit when José María del Nido was shown to his seat at the home of his bitter rivals and was presented – like all other presidents to visit the stadium that season – with a statue marking Betis’s centenary year.

Upon refusing the gift, Del Nido was denied his seat in the front row of the director’s box. He was then placed next to a bust of the Betis president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, which proved far too great an ordeal for the Sevilla head honcho.

A scrap ensued during which Sevilla claimed that their president was almost pushed down the stairs by Lopera’s nephew, while Betis insisted Del Nido had insulted him claiming, “You’re as gay as your uncle!”

Along with missiles raining down on the players, monkey chants and supporters denied access to the stadium, it really was no wonder that a few weeks later events would once again take an unsavoury turn with the bottle incident.

Ramos was stretchered off shortly after his side had taken the lead in the second half. The ambulance was stoned on entry to the stadium and riot police were called in to clear the area. These shocking scenes led to both clubs finally acknowledging things had gone too far and the rhetoric cooled somewhat.

The on-field collapse of Sevilla player Antonio Puerta a few months later then brought the two sides together like never before, with both Béticos and Sevillistas offering each other support outside the hospital as they waited for news and soon after, offering comfort in mourning.

Accordingly, though on the pitch the game was highly charged, last Saturday night’s affair was a friendly one with no problems reported in the first meeting between the two sides in three years.

An inspired Beñat free-kick in the 26th minute opened the scoring for the hosts at the  Benito Villamarín stadium, home of Real Betis – who were promoted back to the top flight last season.

Álvaro Negredo levelled before the break with a header but it was a game to forget for defender Fazio who had conceded the free-kick which led to the opening goal and he was given his marching orders for a second yellow card, forcing Sevilla to close ranks with just over 20 minutes to go.

No further goals meant Sevilla missed the opportunity to close to within two points of fourth-placed Levante.

Meanwhile, the fallout in the Spanish capital from the Copa del Rey defeat to Barcelona last week continues, with rumours of dressing room discontent between the Spaniards and Portuguese and specifically between Mourinho and club captains Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas.

On Sunday morning, sports daily Marca published a transcript of a heated conversation between the three of them which reportedly led to a team meeting before the game to find out the source of the leak.

The weekend could have been even worse for the manager as his side had to come from behind at the Santiago Bernabéu when Athletic Bilbao took the lead on 13 minutes, from a Fernando Llorente goal.

But the home side wasted no time in hitting back, with Marcelo bringing Madrid level after good work from Karim Benzema. Cristiano Ronaldo then converted two penalties before José Callejón completed a 4-1 scoreline.

Messi was at his brilliant best, scoring a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 win at Málaga.

Radamel Falcao also scored three as Atlético Madrid claimed their first Primera Division away win of the season at Real Sociedad.

The club record signing opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the third minute before Adrián López doubled Atléti’s lead just after half-time. The Colombia international completed his treble with two goals late on.

The victory ended the club’s shocking away run and continued Diego Simeone’s impressive start as coach, with two wins and a draw from his first three games.

Espanyol moved up into fifth place after extending their unbeaten run to five league games thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Granada. The result condemned the visitor’s coach Fabri, who was promptly sacked.

Real Mallorca moved four points clear of relegation with a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano from an Iván Ramis winner just before the hour.

RESULTS:

Real Madrid 4 – 1 Athletic Bilbao

Levante UD 0 – 0 Real Zaragoza

Málaga CF 1 – 4 FC Barcelona

Rayo Vallecano 0 – 1 RCD Mallorca

Osasuna 1 – 1 Valencia CF

Real Betis 1 – 1 Sevilla FC

Real Sociedad 0 – 4 Atlético Madrid

Racing Santander 1 – 2 Getafe CF

RCD Espanyol 3 – 0 Granada CF





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Published: Jan 24 2012
Category: Sports, Spain News
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
Short URL: http://iberosphere.com/?p=5263
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