Betis won in Bilbao without putting more than concentration and group work into their football. Nobody shone more than another, except Claudio Bravo, in the Verdiblanco team, and with that it was enough for Pellegrini’s men to add three points that put Europe on a sweet spot. For Valverde’s men, who have lost 16 of the last 17 games in which they came at a disadvantage at half-time, and the other tied it, the screen went off with the early goal – that is to say at five past ten at night –, and they could not turn it back on. Right now, the European classification is a chimera.
Unai Simón, Daniel Vivian, Yuri, Aitor Paredes, De Marcos (Capa, min. 80), Dani García (Ander Herrera, min. 57), Vesga (Malcom Adu, min. 80), Williams, O. Sancet, Nico Williams and Guruzeta (Raúl García, min. 57)
Bravo, Paul Akouokou, Sabaly, Juan Miranda, Pezzella, Guido Rodríguez, Canales, Ayoze Pérez (Luiz Henrique, min. 75), Guardado (Abner, min. 81), William Carvalho (Rodri, min. 64) and Willian José ( Borja Iglesias, min 74)
goals 0-1 min. 5: Willian Jose.
Referee Miguel Angel Ortiz Arias
Yellow cards Ayoze Pérez (min. 43), De Marcos (min. 49), Pezzella (min. 55) and Guardado (min. 81)
red cards Daniel Vivian (min. 93)
A throw-in can be an opportunity, and this is how Betis understood it, which was already winning at San Mamés in minute 5. Miranda caught the ball, took a breath, shot into the small area, Vivian wrinkled in the clearance, the ball bounced off Vesga, and Willian José was there, sniffing the smell of the goal, to put his leg in and open the scoring.
In another throw-in, this time from the right, Ayoze was able to add the second in a rojiblanca defensive inattention. Without Iñigo Martínez or Yeray, the line trembles. The first part was already declining, and Athletic breathed, which in the midst of the two Betic arrivals had reached the Bravo area dozens of times, in an exercise of permanent lack of skill. The best arrival was spoiled by Iñaki Williams when he wanted to finish off in a good position and slipped at the wrong time. The other approaches were one frustration after another in the stands, because the passes fell short or went too long, and when the crosser was right, the finisher was not there.
So between throw-ins and throw-ins, Betis did not need to resort to the wisdom of Canales, nor did they miss anyone who was not there. Pellegrini put together an orderly team and the rest was undone by Athletic.
It was different in the second part, in which Valverde’s men attacked Bravo’s goal, who earned his salary with a few interventions that stopped the people from Bilbao, some even to show off in the photo, like the which he did to Sancet’s shot after an assist from Iñaki Williams. Then it was the eldest of the brothers who fired for the Chilean to reject a corner. Then, in his best play, almost at dawn, he got in the way of Raúl García’s point-blank shot, who a minute later waited too long to finish off a ball that Pezzella herded from him.
If Athletic lacked precision in the first half, despite the fact that Sancet tried to assemble the pieces of his team at all costs, in the second half he had plenty of enthusiasm but without reward. He won Betis, in a throw-in, and he did not need more to fatten his European aspirations and bury the Bilbao a little more. The boutade de Valverde on the eve – “If you wanted a final, here you have one” – has materialized in one more lost final. In Bilbao it begins to be a custom.
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