He Betis beat Sparta Prague 2-1 On the second day of Group C of the Europa League thanks to a comeback signed by playmaker Isco Alarcón with a headed goal eleven minutes from time, giving the Spanish team its first victory in this phase after a good reaction in a second half in which the Czechs, compact and dangerous in the first, they were diluted.
The Andalusian team went from less to more against a superior Sparta in the first half, to the point of taking the lead with a goal from Serbian Veljko Birmancevic at 2 and a half minutes, although six minutes later the young Asane Diao took advantage of a serious error by the Czech goalkeeper to tie and, after the break, Betis achieved a victory that left the group equal to 3 points by beating Aris Limassol against its executioner on the first day, Rangers.
Two teams in different situations in the group faced each other: Betis had the obligation to impose its strength at home (2 wins and 2 draws in LaLiga) and to make its debut in Europe this season, after losing to Rangers (1-0) in Glasgow; and the current Czech champion with the hope of continuing to add after coming back and beating Cypriot Aris Limassol in Prague (3-2), in a duel that Betis faced with only one center back, the Argentine Germán Pezzella, due to Marc Bartra’s injury.
This lack forced the Chilean coach Manuel Pellegriniwhich introduced five changes (goalkeeper Rui Silva, Aitor Ruibal, William Carvalho, Abde and Borja Iglesias) with respect to the eleven that beat Valencia on Sunday (3-0), to delay the midfielder Marc Roca at the axis of the rear, while Sparta, who He arrived as the leader of the group, came out with his usual 3-4-3 and with the Serbian Veljko Birmancevic and the Slovakian Lukas Haraslín on the wingers, and their top scorer, Jan Kuchta, at the top.
The clash began with more initiative and better placement of the compact Czech block, who came out playing the ball well against a somewhat sleepy and distracted Betis, which cost them dearly, when only 2 and a half minutes had passed, when Birmancevic overtook Sparta after sneaking between Roca and Miranda in a cross into space from the left of Rynes and beat Rui Silva on his way out.
To the Spanish painting, with Isco Alarcón lost in the first half, lacked clarity, move the ball faster to create play and more finish. The Prague team continued to do their thing and reached the local area, although Czech midfielder Tomás Wiesner, alone inside the area, missed a good option with poor control in another of the visitors’ attacks.
Even so, a blunder by the Danish goalkeeper Peter Vindahl, when he went out to the edge of the area and did not clear a ball with either his shoulder or his head without apparent danger, allowed him to make it 1-1 through the 18-year-old winger. Assane Diago, who, getting ahead of the goalkeeper and with a subtle touch, scored his third goal in his third straight start at 9 minutes.
Betis, very uncomfortable on the field due to the good tactical order and the exits with quick touches from the Czechs, continued without finding their way and without bothering Vindahl – who, unlike his team, showed signs of insecurity – against a Sparta superior and with more depth, but did not hit the shots from Rynes, who finished off the side of the net in the 33rd minute, and Haraslín, who shot wide from a distance in the 40th, and without Rui Silva in the goal, after a new local defensive mistake.
At the restart, Pellegrini looked for alternatives and completely modified his left wing with the entry after the break of the Brazilian full-back Abner Vinicius and the winger Ayoze Pérez, for Juan Miranda and the Moroccan Ez Abde, given the poor performance of both in the first half.
And soon a change was noticed, because The Verdiblancos pressed the rival higher and with greater vigor. Isco appeared with a good free kick that went just wide in the 50th minute, although the Czech league leader did not give up and, after a lost ball by the Argentine Guido, the Albanian Qazim Laçi finished near the six-yard box, but Pezzella, providential at the crossroads, cleared it by diving to the ground.
After the greater control and the good arrivals accumulated by Sparta Prague in the first half, the scenery of the match changed completely in this second. Betis, now more incisive with the contribution of those two refreshments from the left and then with the entry of the Mexican Andrés Guardado for Carvalho, took a clear step forward.
With this greater push and a soccer more vertical, In addition to the visitors’ wear and tear, Pellegrini’s team generated several chances after the hour mark, such as a high threaded shot by Isco, now much more of a protagonist; another by Marc Roca; and, the clearest, a shot by Aitor Ruibal, after his play on the right, which the Czech goalkeeper saved with one leg.
These good attacks by Betis, the result of the extra march and the aggressiveness they brought to their game, were the prelude to the Andalusian team’s second goal, when Isconow much more participatory, He beat almost without opposition with a perfect turn of the head to Vindahl after a cross from Guido Rodríguez, eleven minutes from the end, which gave him peace of mind to secure a hard-fought first victory in the group stage of this Europa League.
- Betis: Rui Silva; Aitor Ruibal, Pezzella, Marc Roca, Miranda (Abner, m.46); Guido Rodríguez, William Carvalho (Guardado, m.60); Assane Diao (Bellerín, m.85), Isco, Abde (Ayoze, m.46); Borja Iglesias (Willian José, m.75).
- Sparta Prague: Vindahl; Sorensen, Panak, Krejci; Wiesner (Preciado, m.60), Laçi (Sadílek, m.68), Kairinen, Rynes; Birmancevic (Pesek, m.68), Kuchta (Olatunji, m.80), Haraslín (Karabec, m.80).
- Goals: 0-1, M.3: Birmancevic. 1-1, M.9: Assane Diao. 2-1, M.79: Isco.
- Referee: Duje Strukan (Croatia). He admonished the locals Guido Rodríguez (m.11), Assane Diago (m.49+), Aitor Ruibal (m.58) and Abner (m.92), and the visitors Haraslín (m.15), Birmancevic (m. 50+) and Rynes (m.75).
- Incidents: Match on the second day of group C of the Europa League played at the Benito Villamarín stadium in front of 45,037 spectators, including about 700 Czech fans.