A suffered ticket to the eighths

Betis suffered to win a ticket to the round of 16 of the Europa League. He did it because he lacked the football that had brought him here. Fekir and Canales did not appear at the game. Fear took Benito Villamarín at times and the VAR annulled in the last breath a goal from Zenit that seemed to force an infernal extra time. That stomp on Guido Rodríguez in the Betic area gave Pellegrini’s men a ticket to the round of 16 that encountered more difficulties than expected against a rival who improved their performance thanks to the phenomenal quality of Wendel, Claudinho and Malcom. Eight years later, Betis finds the round of 16 in the Europa League and accepts the challenge of dreaming until the end.

Vague, nervous and cautious. This is how Betis began their date against Zenit. The Russian team wanted the ball and had it at times, especially when Wendel and Claudinho teamed up. Pellegrini’s men conceded meters, without executing their usual high pressure and keeping in mind that any space could be differential. But the version of him was milder, more fearful than usual. And in that scenario, Zenit was more dangerous, who had Dzyuba as their great weapon in the rival area. Every jump, every melee action. There Betis trembled, unable to stop that enemy virtue.

The left wing of the Russian team found certain facilities with Bellerin too alone. Pezzella came to the rescue in more than one anticipation while Guido multiplied in the aids. It did not seem to be Pellegrini’s initial plan. There was no depth on its sides. There was no command or pause in Fekir. Only Saved looked for Odoevski’s goal with a long shot turned almost into a lottery ticket. The break invited doubts in the Verdiblancos and stretched the hopes of a Zenit that was much more comfortable than in the event held at the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg.

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Zenit pressed in the resumption. Yuri Alberto, the €20 million striker who arrived this winter, sent the ball into the net before it was ruled offside at the start of the action. Pellegrini asked for more intensity. The team responded to that invitation from a set piece with a header from Guido that crashed into the post. It seemed like a boost for the Betis team. Also for a Villamarín who began to believe as well as doubt. Canales and Fekir had a hard time getting into the game. Aitor Ruibal threw momentum, which led to an insistence that minimized the desire of Zenit. But the scene was approaching the end of it without anything seemed resolved. Malcom wasted a very auspicious set piece and after that he was about to find Yuri Alberto. The Russians accelerated. The Verdiblancos held their breath.

The tension took weight in Heliopolis. Carvalho and Borja Iglesias entered the scene to give Betis air. But the fears were already the owners of their intentions. Malcolm insisted. Claudinho made magic in three quarters and in the umpteenth attack Christiakov managed to beat Rui Silva before the VAR decreed a prior foul on Guido Rodríguez inside the area. Villamarín celebrated that decision as if it were a goal. It was not be for lowerly. It was the long-suffering final passport to the round of 16.


Ivan Sergeyev (63′, Dzyuba), William Carvalho (70′, Channels), Borja Iglesias (82′, Willian José), Joaquin (82′, Fekir), Alexandr Erokhin (83′, Yuri Alberto), Mostovoy (85′, Alex Sutormin), Tello (89′, Saved)


Referee: Halil Umut Meler
VAR Referee: Paolo Valeri
Guido Rodriguez (22′, Yellow) Danil Krugovoy (41′, Yellow) Wilmar Barrios (54′, Yellow) Alexandr Erokhin (91′, Yellow

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