I feel that Sunday morning in Palma, Mallorca, was a game changer for Betis in their quest for La Liga promotion.
Quite frankly, Betis’ record in recent years at the Iberostar, home of RCD Mallorca, has been nothing short of disastrous. Los verdiblancos’ last win at Mallorca came in the 2001/02 season when both teams were playing in La Liga. Betis have been back 10 times since then and haven’t won a single game (four draws and six defeats). As for Real Betis manager, Pepe Mel, he had previously lost four out of four visits to the Balearic Island.
The pressure was laid on even thicker after away wins for both Girona and Sporting Gijón on Saturday, which brought them within one point and three points, respectively, of Real Betis at the summit of La Segunda.
So, if ever there was an opportunity to break their voodoo, Sunday morning was it.
Step up: Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina.
I think I’ve probably mentioned these two before on here, but they did the business again on Sunday to bring a return to La Liga just that bit closer. A goal apiece from the front men helped Betis to a 2-1 win. Both goals were absolute peaches.
Ruben Castro scored a superb individual goal, à la Lionel Messi v Jerome Boateng, to leave the defender on his backside with a face full of grass (see the video below). The second goal was a brilliant team goal with a very smart one-two between that faithful duo of Castro-Molina, leaving Molina with a simple slide in to put Betis 2-0 up.
In scoring the first goal, Rubén Castro equaled Francisco González ‘Paquirri’ as the highest goalscorer in the history of this famous club from Seville. Castro now has 109 goals in 199 games – in la primera: 44 in 93 games, la segunda: 53 in 80, Copa del Rey: 10 in 20 and Europa League: 2 in 6. Not too shabby.
The robin to his batman, the Kel to his Kenan, the Cole to his Yorke, the Dr Watson to his Sherlock Holmes (I could go on…) is Jorge Molina. The man from the Spanish east coast has 73 goals in the green and white of Betis. Although not prolific, Molina has been in fine form this season scoring 16 goals.
The Spanish newspaper, Estadio Deportivo, commented:
“Con Rubén, todo es más fácil.”
That is true, everything is easier with Castro, however, Betis didn’t make light work of the second half after conceding a goal to make it 2-1. The struggled, fought and nearly gave it away, but hung on in the end.
Betis boss, Pepe Mel, must have been bubbling with joy inside. He said,
“This is the game I have felt proudest of my team.”
Mel has targeted 80 points as the golden number for promotion. Betis are currently five points off that on 75. With four games left to get to the magic mark, Betis are well on track. However, we have seen things fall apart on a monstrous scales before with Betis, so they should be taking nothing for granted until it is mathematically proven, which I’m sure are Pepe Mel’s thoughts too.
A freak ‘golazo‘ from Tito and a terrible referring decision helped Llagostera claim their first points against Real Betis this season. The game at el Benito Villmarin finished 2-2, yet could have been much more due to some dodgy defending. However, both goalkeepers, Adán and René, made a few brilliant saves apiece.
The Catalonians gave their fellow Catalonians, Girona, a helping hand this jornada by halting Betis’ five game winning streak, allowing them to make up ground at the top of the table. Both Girona and Sporting managed to cut the gap this weekend to four and six points respectively. Llagostera, on the other hand, are not on a bad run themselves. They are now 13 games unbeaten and fighting for a playoff place.
What would Betis do without Rubén Castro? The Canary Island man grabbed another double this weekend to take his tally for the season to 25. He is now just two goals short of his season record of 27. The 33-year-old is certainly ageing with style. After doing 0-1 down, Castro helped Betis take the lead during the second half and many could be forgiven for thinking that was it. Alas, no. Llagostera were dogged and insistent and drew level in the 76th minute with a wind-aided wonder strike from Tito, which rocketed into the top corner of Adán’s net.
Up next for Betis, is a tricky trip away to Mallorca for the early Sunday morning kickoff. Mallorca are not the team they once were in La Liga and they are still not out of the relegation dog fight, sitting just six points above the drop zone with six games still to play.