Real Betis edges struggling Villarreal

Published Apr. 7, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Real Betis took an important step towards Primera Division survival with a 3-1 home win over relegation rivals Villarreal on Saturday night.

Quickfire goals from Roque Santa Cruz and Ruben Castro at the end of the first half set Betis on their way before Benat made the points safe on the hour.

Villarreal's miserable night got worse when Angel Lopez was harshly given a second caution for handball on 66 minutes as they remained four points above the drop zone.

Villarreal got some consolation in injury time when Marco Ruben tucked away a penalty after home goalkeeper Agosto Fabricio brought down the Argentinian.

It mattered little though as Betis could reflect on a crucial win to move them 10 points clear of danger.

It could have been even more emphatic but for Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez who made his first stop on 15 minutes when he held onto Ruben Castro's 12-yard shot.

The hosts were ahead on 35 minutes though when Ruben Castro's first attempt was blocked by Diego Lopez but Santa Cruz was on hand to lash home the loose ball.


Four minutes later Ruben Castro made it 2-0 as Benat picked him out to score from close range.

Betis continued to dominate after half-time with Diego Lopez tipping a Santa Cruz 20-yarder past the post.

Diego Lopez could do nothing about Betis' third goal on 59 minutes though as the hosts cut open Villarreal on the counter attack.

A long pass freed Ruben Castro who then perfectly weighted a pass to find the determined run of Benat who held off a couple of defenders before rolling the ball past Diego Lopez.

Villarreal's hopes were ended when Angel Lopez was sent off for a second caution when the ball seemed to inadvertently brush his hand.

From the resulting free-kick Diego Lopez made another good save after Santa Cruz helped on Benat's dangerous delivery.

The game then meandered to a close before Marco Ruben earned a late penalty which he scored to at least give Villarreal a goal.