Sevilla defeat local rival Real Betis to stay in UCL hunt
Sevilla kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 2-0 win against local rivals Real Betis, who never recovered from Juan Carlos’ harsh first-half red card.
Juan Carlos was sent off in the 28th minute after being adjudged to have fouled Carlos Bacca in an incident which led to Kevin Gameiro opening the scoring from the penalty spot.
Gameiro killed the game off eight minutes from time with a close-range finish, leaving Betis 10 points from safety with just five games of the season remaining.
For Sevilla, it was a third straight victory, building on their impressive 4-1 midweek win over Porto which fired them into the Europa League semi-finals.
Betis’ third defeat of the season to their neighbours, who knocked them out of the Europa League on penalties a month ago, will be all the harder to swallow given the bright start Gabriel Calderon’s side made to the game.
The hosts started far stronger than Sevilla.
Jordi Figueras got on the end of a dangerous free-kick early on but was unable to direct his attempt on target, while Sevilla defender Federico Fazio had to deflect a shot from Nono wide for a corner, and then Leo Baptistao had a penalty appeal turned down when he hit the deck in the area.
The turning point arrived just before the half-hour mark. Carlos Bacca won an aerial battle and bulldozed his way through the Betis defence, prompting Juan Carlos to slide in to thwart the attack. He touched the ball before making contact with the Colombian striker.
However, referee Carlos Velasco Carballo awarded a penalty and sent off the Betis man – much to the fury of the home fans and players. Ruben Castro shown a yellow card for protesting.
Gameiro sent Antonio Adan the wrong way from the spot, placing the ball high into the net.
The Frenchman could have doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half, racing onto a through ball which put him one on one with Adan, but the goalkeeper was quick off his line to deny the forward with his feet.
Then Adan prevented Vitolo from wrapping up the game, swatting away his shot from inside the area.
Velasco Carballo made a second controversial decision of the afternoon soon after, giving offside against Gameiro just as Betis defender Antonio Amaya flicked the ball into the air with his hand.
At the other end, Castro got a sight of goal at a tight angle but his shot was blocked by Diogo Figueiras, and then Sevilla goalkeeper Beto stuck out a hand to keep out another effort from the striker.
Gameiro then made the points safe in the 82nd minute, nudging home Diogo’s cross after the right-back had combined with Jose Reyes.
The win saw Unai Emery’s side tighten their grip on fifth place and put pressure on fourth-spotted Athletic Bilbao, who play Malaga on Monday.