Isco finishes off with a header to score the winning goal for Betis against Sparta.
Isco finishes off with a header to score the winning goal for Betis against Sparta.VINCENT WEST (REUTERS)

Isco had a monumental second half to avoid suffocation for his team, a Betis team that suffered a lot in the first half and improved a lot in the second half. A header goal from the midfielder ended the aspirations of a good Sparta, which, curiously, was better when it was hotter at the Benito Villamarín stadium where 45,000 spectators braved the prevailing heat in Seville. Isco played, surely, his best game at Betis to be the mainstay in which he secured the victory. Three golden points for his team in a group that is becoming very interesting. The surprising victory of Aris de Limassol over Rangers (2-1) means that all the teams in this group C are now with three points.



Rui Silva, Aitor Ruibal, Juan Miranda (Abner, 45th min), Pezzella, Marc Roca, William Carvalho (Guardado, 59th min), Assane Diao, Guido Rodriguez, Abde (Ayoze Perez, 45th min), Isco and Borja Churches (Willian Joseph, min. 74)


S. Prague

Peter Vindahl, Ladislav Krejci, Filip Panak, Sorensen, Matej Rynes, Tomas Wiesner (Angelo Preciado, min. 60), Qazim Laci (Lukás Sadílek, min. 68), Kaan Kairinen, Jan Kuchta, Veljko Birmancevic (Pesek, min. 68) ) y Haraslin (Adam Karabec, min. 80)

Goals 0-1 min. 2: Veljko Birmancevic. 1-1 min. 8: Assane Diao. 2-1 min. 78: Isco.

Referee Duje Strukan

Yellow cards Guido Rodríguez (min. 11), Haraslin (min. 15), Assane Diao (min. 48), Veljko Birmancevic (min. 49), Aitor Ruibal (min. 58), Matej Rynes (min. 75) and Abner (min. 91)

Isco not only scored a good goal with a header. The thing is that he literally threw himself on top of a Betis team overwhelmed by Sparta’s intensity. And he did it by running more than anyone else and playing in the area where he is really dangerous, on the edge of the rival area. Shortly before the goal, in the 76th minute, Isco himself cut off an almost lethal Sparta counterattack in a high-level defensive action. Before the goal, he launched a free kick and then a screw shot, both very dangerous. Together with Isco, Betis held its own during the time of Assane Diao. Every ball the kid touches ends in a goal. And there are three.

Seville was an oven, at 36 degrees, in which a Betis team, surprised by the vitality of Sparta, melted, a team that caught the Andalusians off their feet with an electric start. A game at 6:45 p.m. in the capital of Andalusia with the prevailing heat was not the best scenario for the two teams. However, Sparta, with a lot of muscle, quickly found the way to the goal after three minutes, when a pass behind the Betis defense was very well taken advantage of by Birmancevic.

Betis, stumped, with Carvalho as a spectator and Isco without luck, found a reward after a serious error by goalkeeper Vindahl. A Dane whose memory was undoubtedly clouded by the prevailing heat. The goalkeeper’s blackout was very well taken advantage of by that prodigy that is Assane Diao. 18 years old, three starts for Betis and three goals. A star is being forged in a boy touched, at this moment, by a wand. Everything he touches becomes a goal.

Betis never got the pulse of the match, surpassed by the intensity of Sparta, much more involved in the clash. It was so hot in Villamarín that the hydration break took place after 23 minutes. Pellegrini had refreshed his team with up to five changes compared to the eleven that defeated Valencia in the League. The legs simply weren’t working. The curious thing about the case is that Sparta began to relax when the heat began to subside in Villamarín.

The second half for Betis was much more upbeat. Aris’ victory against Rangers condemned the Andalusian team to the bottom position of the group with the tie. There was no choice but to win. The fans also understood it and Isco claimed his starring role. His enthusiasm and his football rubbed off on his teammates. With the foul that he was about to enter and with a leading role that changed the match. And all at high speed and after having played practically everything since the beginning of the season.

The chances, little by little, were green and white. Roca, this time as center back due to Bartra’s injury, Aitor Ruibal and Borja Iglesias came close to scoring. The decibels rose in the Villamarín and Isco emerged in the area to head in a good cross from Ruibal.

Sparta, subdued, had not shown signs of life until in the last play of the clash Karabec found himself with a ball in the area and was about to tie. Betis was saved, having achieved its second consecutive victory after defeating Valencia in the League. The best, the rebirth of Isco and the magic of Assane Diao. Of course, progressing in Europe requires better performances even though the heat was a clear mitigating factor in Seville this Thursday.

You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes in Facebook y Xclick here to receive our weekly newsletter.



By Jane Austen

Jane Austen is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.