Madrid, March 14 (IANS) Form rarely counts in city derbies and that was made very clear when Betis won 2-0 away against local rivals Sevilla in the Seville derby in the last 16 of the Europa League football.
This was the first time the two sides have met in Europe, but Thursday night they carried the passion of their domestic clashes into European competition in a game that was nevertheless well controlled by the Turkish referee, reports Xinhua.
Betis are currently at the bottom of the Spanish BBVA Primera Liga and eight points off safety, although they have shown signs of recovery in recent games since the arrival of coach Humberto Calderon, while Sevilla are fighting to finish in the top seven of the table and assure a place in Europe for next season.
Seville derbies are different, however, and after 48 hours in which directors and players all appealed for calm and respect, the game kicked off with both sides going at each other like gladiators in Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
There was no thought for keeping a clean sheet in a game that had far more in common with a league match than the traditional and sometimes sterile European tie.
Betis landed the first blow as Leo Baptistao headed home Juanfran’s pinpoint cross from the right.
Betis keeper Antonio Adan also showed merits to be one of the heroes of the night with a series of saves to deny Carlos Bacca twice and Jose Antonio Reyes in the first half, while Beto in the Sevilla goal needed to be at his best to stop Cedric doubling Betis’ lead in what was a pulsating first half.
The start of the second half saw little change in the game as both sides looked to attack, although Sevilla, despite not finding their star player Igor Rakitic often enough, looked to take the game to Betis, who themselves saw how Beto saved low from Baptistao in the 55th minute.
Kevin Gameiro should have equalised with 20 minutes remaining of a pulsating game but somehow managed to head wide a cross from fellow substitute Marco Marin when he was a yard out from an open goal.
That turned out to be a vital miss as Salva Sevilla, who had replaced an unhappy looking Ruben Castro minutes earlier, scored Betis’ second goal of the night moments afterwards with a right foot shot into the corner of the net after being allowed too much space on the edge of the Sevilla area.
Six minutes of injury time tested Betis’ nerves, but they held on with few problems and despite their domestic problems must now be favourites to reach the last eight, although in Seville derbies anything can happen.