Sevilla beat rivals Betis to go joint top of La Liga
Published on: February 25, 2017 08:55 (EAT)
A second-half comeback saw Sevilla take the spoils once more in the Seville derby with a 2-1 win over Real Betis on Saturday to move joint top of La Liga. Danish defender Riza Durmisi’s well-struck free-kick gave Betis a deserved first-half lead. However, the hosts’ porous defending at set-pieces was exposed as first Gabriel Mercado and then captain Vicente Iborra stretched Sevilla’s unbeaten run over their local rivals to 10 games. Victory also takes Jorge Sampaoli’s men level on 52 points with Real Madrid. However, the European champions have two games in hand, the first of which comes away to Villarreal on Sunday. Betis fed off the atmosphere at a packed Benito Villamarin for the first 45 minutes as Sevilla looked jaded after their Champions League exploits in defeating English champions Leicester City in midweek. The visitors were fortunate early on when Adil Rami’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Betis midfielder Petros and flew narrowly wide of his own goal. Aissa Mandi then saw a header come back off the crossbar, but Betis did finally make the breakthrough nine minutes before half-time. Durmisi took aim from 25 yards and his effort found a hole in the Sevilla wall before flying past the helpless Sergio Rico. Sampaoli reacted at half-time as he sent on Wissam Ben Yedder and Iborra for the ineffectual Pablo Sarabia and Franco Vazquez. Iborra had a huge impact on turning the game around as he was also involved in Sevilla’s equaliser. Samir Nasri’s free-kick found the midfielder unmarked inside the area and after Antonio Adan saved his first effort, Mercado was on hand to smash home the rebound. Sevilla dominated once back on level terms as left-back Sergio Escudero’s driven effort flew just past the far post before Ben Yedder should have done better when he blazed over when well-placed inside the area. And the Europa League holders got the winner thanks to more slack Betis marking from another Nasri free-kick as this time Steven N’Zonzi’s flick-on was pounced on by Iborra to stab home from close range.