Thursday September 22, 2011 (21.00 UK)
Santa Cruz 7, 49, Sevilla (Pen) 12, Benat (Pen) 47 – Juarez 36, Carlos 77, 79
Casto sent off 69
Benito Villamarin, Seville
Javier Aguirre’s Real Zaragoza side suffered their second defeat of the season in a highly entertaining encounter against surprise La Liga leaders Real Betis.
In a scrappy opening ten minutes in which both teams struggled to hold on to the ball, Betis managed to take the lead with their first attempt on goal. Javi Chica found Roque Santa Cruz in the centre of the box, and his left footed shot went past Roberto. Within five minutes Pepe Mel’s men doubled their lead after Abraham was penalised for bringing down Jonathan Pereira in the box. Salva Sevilla converted the penalty, placing his shot into the bottom right of the goal.
Zaragoza got a goal back before half time after some poor goalkeeping from Casto. The Betis keeper came a long way for a cross, but could only manage a weak punch that fell to Abraham who clipped it back towards goal. Casto jumped with Angel Lafita but failed to hold on to the ball, dropping it at Abraham’s feet for the defender to score.
Betis started the second half brighter, and within forty seconds they had won another penalty. The referee believed Paulo Da Silva handled Juanma’s cross, but replays showed the ball might have struck the defender on the side. Benat stepped up and slammed the ball down the middle as Roberto dived to his right. Two minutes later Santa Cruz scored his second and Los Verdiblancos fourth. Chica was not closed down quickly enough and he got a cross in to the Paraguayan, who beat the offside trap and headed down to Roberto’s left.
Zaragoza were given a glimmer of hope after Casto received his marching orders for a poorly timed tackle on Luis Garcia just outside the box. The visitors made their numerical advantage count quickly as substitute Juan Carlos scored a scissor kick volley from six yards after he was not picked up following Helder Postiga’s flick on in the box. They scored their third minutes later when Carlos was played in down the left, the former Real Madrid man taking a touch before rifling a volley in off the bar past a helpless Goitia.
Mel’s side managed to withstand the Zaragoza tirade from then on. However, Goitia almost threw it away when he came to collect a free kick at the death but got nowhere near the ball. Betis cleared to win their fourth Liga game in a row, putting them two points clear at the top of the table.
Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Casto; Chica, Amaya, Dorado, Nacho; Benat, Iriney; Pereira (Goitia 71), Sevilla (Juanma 45), Montero (Rodriguez 61); Cruz
Unused subs: Canas, Molina, Ustaritz, Vadillo
Real Zaragoza (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Juarez, Mateos, Silva, Abraham; Micael (Zuculini 67), Ponzio; Barerra (Carlos 51), Garcia, Lafita; Postiga
Unused subs: Lanzaro, Paredes,, Franco, Pinter, Orti,
Did you know… Betis have now won five of the last six games against Zaragoza (via @whoscored).