That kind of performance and show in finishing was well overdue…but was probably worth waiting for! After dominating halves against Real Madrid and Celta Vigo without scoring (and playing out a 0-0 against Espanyol), the players suddenly remembered how to score during the first half against Valencia.
Without Rubén Castro and Verdú some (many) would have been forgiven in thinking that tonight may have been a long night. But when the team sheet was released, I certainly felt a sense of optimism. I liked Matilla and Xavi Torres in the anchor role, I liked the look of Salva through the middle, I liked Juanfran and Vadillo on the wings and I was hopeful of a good Molina performance through the middle.
The team had a good balance to it and my thoughts were vindicated after 8 minutes when Molina capitalised on some shabby defending to fire into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Salva then finished off two very good passing moves. The first after some great, intricate play in the middle and the second after a strong run down the wing from Vadillo and a pinpoint cross. Betis were 3-0 up at half time and cruising.
During half time I had my doubts whether the game was actually over (naturally being a Bético and having been in similar positions before). But comfortingly Betis played out the team very well. Yes, they did concede a goal and for a minute or two a Valencia comeback could have been on, but, alas, it was squashed and Betis finished much the stronger side and could have scored a few more goals.
In my opinion not one player had a bad game and one of the most pleasing aspects was the clever tactics and substitutions from Pepe Mel. He actually brought on a DM in the shape of Lolo Reyes to help close out the game and brought on some more pace, in Cedrick, to hurt Valencia on the counter, which he did. It will be interesting to see how Pepe Mel plays it with a fully fit Rubén (who returned to training today) and Verdú.
All in all, a very pleasing night! Now there is a short wait till Thursday, when Betis make their bow in the Europa League against Lyon in el Benito Villamarín.
For an in-depth and comprehensive match report please see ForeverBetis.com where the fantastic Adam gives his frequent views and analysis.