Bragging rights and a lot more to Betis after they beat city rivals Sevilla 0-2 in the first leg of their Europa League tie. Leo Baptistao headed the visitors in to the lead from Juanfran’s cross on the quarter hour mark, and although their keeper Adán was the best player on the park after that, substitute Salva Sevilla wrapped up an epic win with twelve minutes to go. Earlier in the evening Valencia virtually reserved their place in the quarter finals with a 0-3 victory at Ludogorets. Barragán put the Ches ahead early on, but the Bulgarian side had the chance to level it midway through the first half after Keita was sent off for giving away a penalty on Bezjak. Diego Alves saved the striker’s spot kick however, and a few minutes later Fede connected with Paco Alcácer’s pass to make it two. With just under an hour gone Senderos headed the third, and the locals also ended a man short when Juninho Quixadá was shown a red card near the end. (13.03.14)
Bragging rights and a lot more to Betis after they beat city rivals Sevilla 0-2 in the first leg of their Europa League tie. The first ever meeting between the two teams in European competitions had attracted a massive interest, and a packed crowd saw Adán saving from Bacca with only fifteen seconds on the clock. Bacca and Reyes went close again soon afterwards, but with a quarter of an hour gone Leo Baptistao ran in to head a Juanfran cross wide of Beto. Adán did well to keep out Bacca and Reyes again before the break, and Moreno and Vitolo both failed to find the target as the locals dominated from there on in. Even so Beto had to be on his toes to save from Cedrick and Baptistao either side of half time, and Cedrick got free on goal later on in the second half only to fire a shot over the bar. Emery brought on Diogo and Gameiro at the break and Marin a few minutes later, and Gameiro must be asking himself how he managed to steer a header wide of the post from only a yard out. But with twelve minutes to go Betis struck again, the inaptly named Salva Sevilla picking up a square ball from Baptistao before turning a shot wide of Beto. An epic win for Gabriel Calderón’s side, and that may just give them the momentum they need to save a season which was looking lost only a couple of weeks ago.
Valencia virtually reserved their place in the quarter finals after a 0-3 victory at Ludogorets. With the local stadium in Razgrad not given the OK by UEFA, the game was switched to Sofia, the second away game in a row that the Ches’ fixture had been relocated. Pizzi’s team settled quickly though, and with only six minutes gone Barragán opened the scoring, drilling a low shot past Stoyanov from the edge of the area after a Vargas free kick fell to him. Paco Alcácer had a penalty appeal turned down and then went close, but midway through the first half the Bulgarian champions were awarded a penalty after Keita was rather harshly sent off for bringing down Bezjak in a crowded area. Diego Alves saved the striker’s spot kick however (his 15th penalty stop out of 33 in his career), and soon afterwards Misidjan was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post. With just over half an hour gone though Fede latched on to Alcácer’s lifted pass to turn a shot past the keeper, and some thirteen minutes in to the second half Senderos headed a third after Vargas headed back a corner. Even with the curiously named Michel Platini on the park Ludogorets had no reply, and any hopes they had of getting back in to the tie ended when Juninho Quixadá was sent off for a foul on Joao Pereira with ten minutes to go.