I considered writing my usual full post match report, but since the celebrations were relatively long for a school night, not to mention work being hectic, I have only now had a chance to sit down and reflect on the events in detail. So perhaps the moment has gone for a blow-by-blow account, but rather than leave the events undocumented completely, I thought it would perhaps still be a good idea to share some images and stories from that rather eventful Tuesday evening!
Enjoy!As I entered the stadium the Himno had just begun, and I was relieved and delighted that I didn’t miss this impressive tifo display that visually represented the 4 Europa Leagues that have been won in the past 10 years – picture from a better angle further down.
Being Scottish, and having attended that particular game in 2007, I was particularly struck by this rare scarf so had to take a picture of it as I’d never seen it before! I also noticed in the Preferencia section a few hundred empty seats, which was not too surprising given the hefty price, and the fact that this was the 3rd derby in just over 3 weeks.
Just a brief comment on the game itself… any chances of an incredible Betis comeback were over after only 3 minutes as Reyes lived up to his name and reputation by creating and finishing our first meaningful attack on goal. The intensity took a little slump after that, as the goal meant that the competition was effectively over. However we were not to be bored for long as Adil Rami got in on the fun when his shot from a loose ball from a corner made it over the line (despite a desperate diving header from a Betis player).
Betis now had to score five goals without reply. Considering they hadn’t even scored ONE goal in 5 full games prior to this one, there was no chance of that happening. I was at one point impressed that the Betis supporters stayed on for the second half, but then I realised they couldn’t leave due to security, so they had to endure another 45 minutes of torture. And so it transpired…
Although midway through the second half, they began to enjoy a bit of pressure and their fans were beginning to find their voice again. This insolence only served to anger the Biris who led the stadium in a chant of “Otra! Otra!” (another!) in a clear appeal to Emery that we wanted to see more pain inflicted on our poor cross city cousins! At this moment, I for the first time got a clear feeling of what it would have been like to be present in the Colosseums of ancient Rome, as bloodthirsty spectators bayed for more gore!
Emery swiftly brought on MKD for the tiring Reyes, and Gameiro for the willing but statuesque Llorente, and immediately the decision paid dividends and the home fans got their wish. The players combining with their first touches of the ball, with Kevin skipping through the abject Betis defence with ease before firing low and hard into the net. If we had started the game with this kind of pace up front then I suspect that the score could have been even more humiliating by this point. As much as I love Llorente, this was not his kind of game, and he rarely if ever caused their defence any concerns.
After that third goal the party was back on, but also took an unexpected turn as the home supporters took the opportunity to further mock the 600 or so Beticos up to my right in a way that I am still laughing about. In scenes never before imagined, the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan reverberated to a mightily loud yet derisory rendition of the Betis anthem, whilst torch lights were waved in the air. This was not the first occasion in the game for mocking, as their first shot on target was sarcastically cheered, not to mention that we were doing the ‘Ole’s’ even before half time! If this was a boxing match the ref would have called it off long before…
The relaxed party atmosphere even continued with a Mexican Wave!!! Seriously!
There was even a point where I began to feel a little bit sorry for them, but after months of their fans goading us with all they could muster, it was, I am afraid to say, pay-back time! Any Beticos watching on TV had probably long turned off their TV sets, but for the fans who were penned into the corner section like cattle, they could only watch on with broken hearts.
Kakuta’s goal, (the final kick of the match) expertly assisted by the still spritely Gamiero and MKD, was the final sword in Betis’ gaping wound, and brought an end to the winter trilogy of games between the two clubs.