Three and easy for Hoffenheim
Fri, 05 Apr 2013 22:24:00
St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas says his side were thoroughly worthy of the point they earned in a 0-0 draw at Inverness.
The visitors played some fine football at times but it was the hosts who created the better chances, only to find Saints goalkeeper Alan Mannus in fine form.
And Lomas' men finished with a point, which was enough to take them above Ross County and into fourth in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League table.
Lomas said: "We had two lapses in concentration from balls over the top, which could have cost us, but it would have been a travesty if we had not taken a point.
"For an away performance, that's about as good as it gets in Inverness, because they've given some teams a real hiding here this season.
"(Inverness boss) Terry Butcher will probably think his side should have nicked it, but I don't think he'll be too pleased with their performance."
The Andalusian derby was as good as settled during a four-minute spell just after the half-hour when Betis scored three times, Ruben Castro netting the first two before Granada defender Inigo Lopez put through his own net.
Betis added a fourth goal through Dorlan Pabon at the start of the second half before Granada trimmed the deficit with a Carlos Aranda header with 18 minutes to go.
Relegation-threatened Granada could not make anymore inroads though and they were reduced to 10 men when Guilherme Siqueira was shown a second yellow card for diving, and Betis wrapped up the scoring five minutes from time with a breakaway Angel Lopez goal.
Betis gave Granada an early warning of what might be to come when in the ninth minute Colombia international Pabon drew a brilliant save out of Tono with a 25-yard effort.
Tono did well to keep that out but he was largely powerless to prevent Betis taking a stranglehold on the match midway through the first half.
Castro opened the floodgates in the 30th minute with a shot into the bottom corner and the 31-year-old doubled his account for the night 60 seconds later with a close-range tap-in after Pabon's superb chip from outside the area came down off the crossbar.
Worse was to follow for Granada as Betis added a third in the 34th minute when Lopez inadvertently bundled the ball into his own net after Junior's looping header had also come back off the bar.
Lopez thought he had made amends by pulling a goal back almost immediately, but his effort was ruled out for offside and Betis went into the break with their three-goal lead intact.
Granada made a double substitution at half-time but it barely had any time to make an impact before Betis made it 4-0, Pabon finding the back of the net in the 53rd minute from a Castro pass.
The home side finally gave their fans something to cheer in the 72nd minute when Aranda glanced home a near-post header to make it 4-1, but any hopes of an unlikely comeback ended seven minutes later when Granada lost Siqueira.
Siqueira was shown a second yellow card for simulation after going to ground inside the area.
Betis then completed a miserable night for their hosts by adding a fifth goal late on through Angel.
Pelle struck with 19 minutes remaining as the hosts claimed their 19th win of the season.
Victory saw Ronald Koeman's side jump three places and to within a point of leaders Ajax.
Meanwhile, VVV remain anchored to the bottom of the table, seven points from safety.
Roberto Firmino's early strike and an Andreas Lambertz own goal put the hosts on their way to victory before Kevin Volland sealed all three points for only the sixth time this season, allowing them to creep up on Augsburg in 16th place.
Hoffenheim looked transformed from their fourth change of coach this season and only what appears to be a serious hand injury to goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes cast a shadow on a successful night at the Rhein-Neckar Arena.
Hoffenheim are now just a point below Augsburg, who are in action against Borussia Dortmund tomorrow, in the relegation play-off berth with Fortuna just five points further ahead with six games of the season remaining.
Gisdol kept the changes to a minimum, but what he had altered was his side's frame of mind.
They were aggressive from the whistle, crushing Fortuna inside their own half with the returning Sejad Salihovic instrumental at the heart of midfield.
Just 11 minutes were on the clock when Sven Schipplock set up Firmino to drill a shot high into the roof of the net.
Fortuna appeared stunned by the force of the home team's attacks and they were forced into damage limitation before finally gaining the courage to attack themselves.
Robbie Kruse, who passed a late fitness test to appear for Fortuna, was their most creative outlet on the right wing and his cross on the stroke of half time was headed wide by Axel Bellinghausen.
It was an important sign of life from the visitors, who started the second half with much more confidence, although Lambertz was a touch overzealous as he stretched out a foot and caught Gomes who, after several minutes of treatment, had to leave the field.
Koen Casteels came on, yet he was never really put to the test as Hoffenheim launched a second wave of attacks, grabbing a second goal with 15 minutes remaining.
Salihovic's corner was diverted into his own goal by the head of Lambertz as he tried to make a clearance.
Volland wrapped up victory in the last minute of stoppage time, keeping his cool to beat Fabian Giefer after being put through on goal by an inspirational Salihovic.