Dramatic late winner in Seville!
La Liga Santander Week 1
Estadio Benito Villamarín, Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain
Real Betis 1 (Loren Morón 68’)
Real Valladolid 2 (Sergi Guardiola 63’, Óscar Plano 89’) The 2019/20 La Liga Santander season got off to a bang for Real Valladolid as they snatched a dramatic late winner to overcome ten-man Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín.
The home side boasted marquee new signings, attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir from Lyon and striker Borja Iglesias from Espanyol, whose additions softened the blow of having lost Giovani Lo Celso in the summer transfer window to Tottenham Hotspur.
Sergio aligned his team in a similar fashion to the last time these sides met in Andalucía, with right-back Antoñito occupying a place on the right flank in front of captain Javi Moyano. This had allowed Antoñito to push forward on the counter-attack last season, where he scored the only goal of the match. There was a curious choice at centre-back, brought about by the departure of Fernando Calero during the summer. Mohamed Salisu was handed his La Liga debut alongside Kiko Olivas despite the young defender having featured sparingly in pre-season.
Only eight minutes had elapsed when the match exploded into life. Home goalkeeper Joel rushed out of his area to challenge Sandro clumsily, and the referee – Señor Jaime Latre – had no hesitation in brandishing the red card. Immediately, Real Betis manager Rubi was forced into a tactical change. He opted to replace talismanic captain Joaquín in order to bring on substitute goalkeeper Dani Martín for his first taste of La Liga action. There was a change required from the away bench too as Sandro, who had been involved in the earlier incident, felt he was unable to carry on and Turkish striker Enes Ünal was brought on in his place.
With these enforced early amendments, the following minutes were relatively tight with both sides tentatively seeking the opening goal. Óscar Plano had an opportunity, but was unable to direct his attempt from inside the box on target. At the other end, Jordi Masip was called into action to halt a flowing counter-attack from the home side when he denied Cristian Tello.
Shortly before the half-hour mark, Dani Martín was given the chance to settle into the match when he blocked a deflected shot from Rubén Alcaraz which came off Kiko Olivas. Fekir attempted to break the deadlock with a freekick, but it flew over Masip’s bar.
At half-time, the sides retired to the dressing room with no score but plenty of talking points; not least the early dismissal of Joel.
There was further bad news for the Andalucíans, as striker Borja Iglesias was unable to return for the second half, having picked up a knock in the opening period, meaning Loren Morón took his place.
Sergio shuffled his alignment ten minutes into the second period, taking off Antoñito and replacing him with Waldo. This appeared to disrupt the shape of the team temporarily due to the substitute bieng a naturally left-sided player. However, there was no lasting confusión as Real Valladolid went ahead on 63 minutes through Sergi Guardiola. He took a pass from Alcaraz with his back to goal, turned smoothly and rifled a low, left-footed drive from outside the box past the outstretched goalkeeper.
Just five minutes later, Real Betis were back on level terms. Right-back Emerson picked up possession and moved forward before sending a speculative through-ball into the penalty area. A clever step-over from William Carvalho froze the Pucela defence momentarily and allowed the ball to run onto Loren. He showed great composure to slide the ball past Masip from short range and tie the score.
Sergio’s side were dealt a further blow when Alcaraz was forced off with physcal discomfort which means he will miss Saturday’s trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid. Anuar made his season bow as a replacement for the influential midfielder on 76 minutes.
As the match ebbed into its final moments, the killer blow came from Real Valladolid. Left-back Nacho fed the ball onto Waldo whose clipped ball into the feet of Óscar Plano saw the midfielder pivot and lash home past Dani Martín from inside the box. The relief was palpable among the players on the pitch and the squad and technical staff on the sidelines.
They head into the weekend’s encounter in the capital with confidence high having secured a fine win against a quality Real Betis side.
Joel Robles (S/O 8’); Alfonso Pedraza, Sidnei, Marc Bartra, Emerson; Javi García, William Carvalho, Joaquín (Capt.) (Dani Martín 10’), Nabil Fekir, Cristian Tello (Juanmi 83’); Borja Iglesias (Loren Morón 46’)
Substitutes unused: Antonio Barragan, Zouhair Feddal; Wilfrid Kaptoum; Diego Lainez.
Jordi Masip; Nacho, Mohamed Salisu, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano (Capt.); Óscar Plano, Rubén Alcaraz (Anuar 76’), Míchel, Antoñito (Waldo 55’); Sergi Guardiola, Sandro (Enes Ünal 12’).
Substitutes unused: Andriy Lunin; Pedro Porro, Joaquín; Toni Villa.
Image: La Liga