Hay Betis!

Yesterday’s match was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season for me. The fans were in jubilant mood, which was buoyed by the team providing some much needed entertainment, especially for the second half.

Getafe started the game with a super intense tempo, knowing full well that their la liga fate was theirs to determine: get a win and they were safe. They pressed high and hard and put Betis under the cosh coming close on a number of occasions. Scepovic really should have scored from a Sarabia cross but his diving header whistled past the post. But Betis resisted and eventually began to get a grip on the game and came close too when Jorge Molina was slipped through gloriously by Dani Ceballos. The man from Alcoy in his last game in green and white saw his name in lights but couldn’t apply the finish. To be fair Guaita stuck out a huge left hand and made a fine save. Betis should have had a penalty with one of the clearest hand balls you’re ever likely to see from Pereira, but protests were ignored by the ref.

Scepovic went close again early in the second half but was thwarted this time by Dani Giménez. The goalkeeper who has just renewed his contract had a fine game in goal, in for the suspended Adán. Betis looked a completely different side second half and the introduction of Charly Musonda initiated this. He came on for an injured Vargas and brought with him a huge injection of energy, pace and trickery. The Belgian is on loan from Chelsea and although I very much doubt they will sell him just yet, I hope we get him on loan again next season as he makes a real difference to this side.

The opener came from Betis’ second top goalscorer – central defender Germán Pezzella. Lovely freekick cross from Joaquín and a fantastic header into the far top corner. His third goal of the season. Pezzella started the season incredibly shaky and looking a little lost in la liga, but he has grown and has started to look like a very good defender.

Around the hour mark and it was time for Don Jorge Molina to depart. He handed the captains arm band over and received an incredible standing ovation for his services. He tapped his heart and the badge as he walked off clapping the crowd. You could see the emotion in his eyes and how much this meant to him as he made his way to the dugouts.

Betis’ second goal came from the penalty spot courtesy of Rubén Castro. Musonda won it after a bamboozling run, slicing through defenders and was then brought down. The contact came way outside the box and in honesty it wasn’t a penalty, but the one in the first half certainly was, so I guess two wrongs did make a right on this occasion.

Rubén slotted it away and cemented this season as his best ever for Betis in la liga. Remarkably from the 34 year old.

At 2-0 and with Rayo and Sporting Gijón both winning, Getafe started to turn nasty. A whole host of fouls and yellow cards ensued and then the inevitable red card close to the end when Buendia hacked down Ceballos, who really influenced this second half. It was a horrible, disgusting ‘challenge’ and deserved a straight red. Getafe got a consolation, very good goal from Medrán, but it wasn’t enough.

I may have underestimated this game and Betis’ capabilities before hand. I thought with nothing to play for it was going to be drab, but alas, Betis once again were back to their expect the unexpected best, which has been missing this season. We want games like this. Exciting, action packed, intriguing. I know not every game can be full throttle, 100 mph but this is what Betis has been built on.

Defeats are fine. These are part of the Betis ‘manquepierda‘ philosophy. Wins are better, but it is the manner in which these results are achieved. We haven’t seen the Betis spirit for much of this season and to see the end of season table and that we finished 10th maybe reflects on the rest of the league.

Juan Merino has done a brilliant job since taking over from Pepe Mel and has fully achieved the sole aim of this season. Glad he got to finish his temporary spell with a win and in front of a very happy home crowd; likewise for Molina.

Next season sees the start of new chapter for Real Betis. With Gus Poyet in charge I hope the club can go from strength to strength. I am looking forward to it already.

Viva el Betis! 

Photo credit: Raúl Doblado

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