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Abel Romera | 19/11/2012
Five minutes. That's how long this Sevilla-Betis derby lasted. Just long enough for the visitors to throw all their good intentions of a Champions League spot down the pan. A terrible error from goalkeeper Adrián gifted the first to Reyes within 12 seconds of the start, and gave his teammates a terrifying attack of the jitters. They wandered around the pitch lost until Fazio scored the second, within five minutes. Reyes finished a non-existent Betis off just after half an hour, and Fazio buried them ever deeper just before the break. Rubén Castro put a tiny shine on the devastating result in the second half, before Rakitic finished off the demolition for Sevilla.
Since the League calendar was drawn up back in July the Betis fans had been waiting. "For this?!", they must have thought when Adrián's atrocious error let Reyes open the scoring 12 seconds after the kick off. The Betis keeper went one on one with the striker, who resolved the situation by firing the ball into the net, ripping up Pepe Mel's plans as he did so. But things didn't stop there. Any situation, no matter how bad, can get worse. Betis' horizon turned greyer still when Fazio doubled the local's advantage after five minutes with a perfect header from a cross from Rakitic.
The blazing start from the locals, and the confusion from the visitors, sent both teams' scripts to the shredder, Sevilla were left with a dreamlike fantasy, while Betis were reduced to a drama of epic proportions. A drama that could have turned to terror had Negredo not angled his shot quite as much just after the 2nd goal. It wasn't necessary to wait long however to realise that Betis would be unable of recovering from such a catastrophic start. The shock and the disorientation that Mel's players were suffering from, in addition to the strength and admirable tenacity of their rivals, simply increased the number of chances for Michel's team.
Sevilla had a triple chance to score, right before they delivered the actual knockout blow. Nelson, innocent as a baby, fell asleep watching a rebound off the cross bar from Negredo, and Reyes nipped in to take the ball before it could get to him, before slotting home his second of the night. Betis were disoriented, K.O., battered unconscious on the turf of the Pizjúan. Mel was obliged to do something, and took off Cañas to bring on Pereira. With his team dreaming of half time Fazio once again appeared, above a sea of arms, legs, heads and other body parts, to put his team into orbit with a fourth in the first half.
The Betis players, who would no doubt have preferred not to return to the pitch and to have given up the whole adventure as a terrible nightmare, had only one objective in the second half: to try and make up for the thrashing handed out in the first 45 minutes. But after the restart nothing changed, Sevilla continued to move the ball around at their pleasure, against a rival who lacked strength to the same extent that they lacked spirit. Things didn't improve for Betis after Rubén Pérez saw his second yellow for hand ball. Only a collective failure from the Sevilla defence, half way through the second 45 allowed Ruben Castro to get a consolation for the visitors.
Sevilla in the end were content to chug along in the final part of the match; even so Rakitic added insult to injury in stoppage time, with the fifth. The defeat, nay hammering, drops Mel's team out of the Champions League spots, and puts Michel and his lot just a point behind their eternal rivals and the European zone. The date of 14 April is now circled in red on the calendars in Sevilla, the day when Betis will have their chance to get revenge...
IMAGEN: Ecstasy in the Pizjuán