First Division - Day 26

Alavés 0 - Betis 1

Alavés: Kike; Lombardi, Coloccini, Téllez, Llorens; Astudillo, Pablo; Jordi Cruyff (Magno 50'), Vucko, Ibon Begoña (Mara 80'); Rubén Navarro (Iván Alonso 50'). 4-2-3-1.
Betis: Prats; Cañas, Juanito, Rivas (Belenguer 46'), Mingo; Merino, Benjamín; Joaquín (Estévez 88'), Capi, Denilson (César 82'); Dani. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Alavés: Lombardi, Vucko for Geli, Turiel / Betis: Cañas, Mingo, Merino for Tais, Luis Fernández, Ito.

0-1. 41. Capi. Header on far post after Joaquín crossed in from right wing.

The seventh and eighth placed teams Alavés and Betis met at a cold Mendizorroza stadium, both trying to keep in touch with the leading group. It was a hard fought game, but in the end the visitors took the three points with a 0-1 victory. With Luis Fernández, Ito and Varela players suspended and five out injured (including all three first team forwards) Juande Ramos was forced to put out a side packed with youngsters, but they put in a professional performance that augurs well for the future. The new Spanish international Joaquín is the new leader of the young "Quinta", and once again he was the inspiration as the Andalucians bore down on Kike's goal in the opening minutes. The Alavés keeper was forced to make good saves from Benjamin on two occasions and Dani later on, but could do nothing as Joaquín found Capi with a pinpoint cross shortly before half time to open the scoring.

Betis keeper Toni Prats passed a late fitness test to play, and he proved he was in his best form as he stopped efforts from Rubén Navarro and Téllez before the half time whistle. At the break Juande Ramos took off Rivas with a bad cut to his hand, and a frustrated Mané decided to change his forward line soon after the restart, Magno and Iván Alonso coming on for Jordi Cruyff and Navarro. Prats made another good stop from Alonso almost immediately, but the home side were still sluggish, stubbornly trying the direct route to goal rather than any creative wing play. In the end their challenge died out, and to make matters worse Coloccini was sent off for a second bookable offence at the end and Llorens picking up a fifth yellow card of the season, which means that Mané will have to cobble together a new defence for next week's game at Real Madrid. This was their third home defeat in a row and they stay in eighth place, now three places below Betis who are back in the race for a Champions League spot.