Real Betis went into Sunday’s Seville derby — never a fixture for the faint-hearted — in very much a weakened state: rock-bottom of the league table and with fitness doubts over both of the team’s center forwards. In the end, Jorge Molina was able to start with Rubén Castro kept in reserve on the bench, but in under two minutes the task against an improving Sevilla side looked far too great. Old and new faces combined in a flash to put the home team in command, as José Antonio Reyes neatly lofted a pass over the Betis back line and Carlos Bacca made it look easy in his first Seville derby, the Colombian letting the ball bounce down off his chest before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Sara.
Pepe Mel’s men then made a point of getting stuck in as the grudge match predictably turned into a kind of foul-play roadshow, the ball generally traveling barely halfway across the pitch before another collision and ensuing dust-up punctuated play once more. Initially, all this can be said to have achieved was to break Sevilla’s rhythm, while perhaps confirming that Betis was never going to settle into one, instead preferring its options in a street fight. Referee Estrada Fernández appeared to be in a somewhat liberal mood but Betis defender Paulão gave him no choice but to brandish red with a rash challenge on Reyes for a second yellow card. The Brazilian defender wept as he exited the field of play and later took public blame for his team’s defeat. “I am responsible for what happened,” he told reporters, while also lamenting that he had not deserved the first card for dissent. “All I said was ‘now what?’” he claimed.
Paulão’s refreshingly courageous admission of guilt aside, the game was effectively ended, with two more strikes for the home team either side of half time from Stéphane Mbia and Vitolo, before Vicente Iborra hammered home the humiliation factor by making it 4-0 in the 88th minute.
Next up for Betis is Rayo Vallecano, currently just one rung above the Seville club in the pit of despair. Earlier on Sunday Rayo had also seen its weekend go pear-shaped early on when keeper Rubén brought down Espanyol forward Sergio García: red card and penalty to the visitor. García waited for the substitute goalie to arrive, dispatched the kick and later doubled the lead from the spot in the second half, the former Spanish international winding up with a hat trick in Espanyol’s 1-4 victory.