La Liga: Seville and Betis share the honours
A frantic Andalusian derby sees Betis stage a three-goal comeback, while Cristiano Ronaldo is on target for Real Madrid and a Messi-less Barça ease to victory.
By Halima Ali
The Andalusian rivalry that has seen club directors pushed around in their plush seats, family members insulted and a manager passing out on the pitch after being hit on the head with a bottle thrown from the stands was back this weekend with some of its usual drama including a last-minute victory, a glut of goals and plenty of middle fingers in the air.
When the two sides met in November, Sevilla emerged triumphant over Real Betis as two goals by José Antonio Reyes ensured a 5-1 thrashing of their city neighbours, but while Los Rojiblancos may have enjoyed bragging rights for a short time, they now find themselves in the same predicament as in the autumn, trailing both the Verdiblancos and a European qualifying position.
For Sevilla winger Diego Perotti, their aims were clear: “They are currently above us and beyond our reach, but we will keep playing for our lives until the very end…it means nothing if we don’t achieve our objectives. The 5-1 win is not enough because the most important thing is to be in Europe, not to say we won both games against Betis.”
And not long after kick-off on Friday evening, the game again seemed to be heading the way of the Sevillistas.
In just the sixth minute, the visitors got off to the perfect start when Reyes once again made his presence known, picking out Ivan Rakitić who struck low into the net. It was not long before the Croatian bagged his second of the match, a tap in from close range in the 19th minute while Álvaro Negredo put Sevilla three goals up just after the half hour.
Victory seemed assured but the tide began to turn and the hosts gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Dorlan Pabón lobbed goalkeeper Beto from inside the area just before halftime.
After the break, Rubén Castro slotted home from the penalty spot after Federico Fazio was judged to have fouled Jorge Molina.
If the cracks were beginning to show, they were blown wide open when serial Sevilla offender Gary Medel was given a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on José Cañas.
Sensing blood, the Béticos set about levelling proceedings but Sevilla’s defence held firm.
As the clock ticked down, Nosa Igiebor, the most expensive signing of the summer for Betis, who has left supporters and management distinctly unimpressed this season, would have the final word.
His contribution to the team since joining the Andalusians has been dismal and he made the most headlines when it took him a month to return to Seville following the end of the African Cup of Nations, earning him a hefty club fine.
But on Friday night, as he headed high into the top corner, his 90th-minute equaliser sent the Benito Villamarín into raptures, and he celebrated with both middle fingers up. His manager, leaping around with joy did the same.
The result leaves Betis in seventh place, two points off a European position while Sevilla trail in 10th.
Meanwhile, in the Basque country, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Real Madrid with a blistering free-kick and towering header in Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés.
The forward took his tally to 31 goals in la liga, as he scored in his eighth successive game in all competitions, and provided the assist to Gonzalo Higuaín for the third.
Elsewhere, Barcelona eased one step closer to the league title with a comfortable 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza on Sunday despite the absence of Lionel Messi, who was left out of the squad as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Thiago Alcantara put the visitors ahead after 20 minutes and then set up Cristian Tello to double the advantage before the break. The 21-year-old Tello then added another shortly after halftime with a brilliant individual effort.
Real Madrid remain 13 points behind leaders Barcelona with seven games left to play.
Real Betis 3 – 3 Sevilla FC
Málaga CF 1 – 0 Osasuna
RCD Espanyol 3 – 3 Valencia CF
Levante UD 0 – 4 Deportivo La Coruña
Real Valladolid 2 – 1 Getafe CF
RCD Mallorca 1 – 0 Celta de Vigo
Athletic Bilbao 0 – 3 Real Madrid
Real Zaragoza 0 – 3 FC Barcelona
Atlético Madrid 5 – 0 Granada CF
Rayo Vallecano 0 – 2 Real Sociedad
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Published: Apr 16 2013
Category: Featured, Spain News, Sports
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
Short URL: http://iberosphere.com/?p=8383
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Tags: Liga, Los Rojiblancos, Ronaldo, Sevilla, spain, Spain football, spain news, spain soccer