The Spanish Real Betis and the Bulgarian champion Ludogorets played a phenomenal game from the Europa League groups, and the Verdiblancos defeated the home team 3-2 in a breathtaking duel at the Benito Villamarin. Three times Betis went ahead in the result, first in the 26th Luis Enrique led the hosts, and Joaquin with a magical goal made it five before the end of the first half. In added time, Kiril Despodov reduced the deficit of the “eagles” from a foul.
The second half saw a goal performance by Sergio Canales after almost an hour of play, and in the 75th Rick Jonathan scored a second goal for the Eagles, but their strength was not enough in southwestern Spain. Ludogorets certainly have nothing to be ashamed of in their first visit to the Europa League groups, with the team playing a very solid game against Betis, but individual class and detail made the difference in this encounter.
The loss sent Ludogorets to third place in the provisional standings of Group C, the same as second-placed Roma, but the “Gialorossi” are better on goal difference. Betis is first with six and HIK Helsinki last with zero assets. The Eagles’ next game in Scandinavia is against the Finns.
As expected, the Spanish team had more possession in the first few minutes of the match. After four plays, defender Aitor joined the attack and passed to William Jose, who returned it with one. Aitor tried an aerial shot, but too anemic.
In the 10th minute, the hosts had claims for a penalty after Luis Enrique passed between Sisinho and Nedyalkov, and the former put his body in front of the Betis offensive player, but the referee did not point to the penalty spot for the Verdiblancos.
In the 14th minute, Cuadrado attacked the Bulgarian goal from a free kick, but Padt saved. A good attack by the “Eagles” followed after a pass from Tekpetei to Thiago, but the Brazilian’s shot was inaccurate. Seven after that, Despodov crossed from a corner for Thiago, who shot with his head, but rather inaccurately – out.
In the 26th, the hosts opened the scoring after a flurry of saves earlier from Padt. The Dutchman, on Canales’ second cannon shot, the goalkeeper sent the ball to the left for Miranda, who made a parallel pass to Enrique, and he outran Cicinho and opened from close range – 1:0.
Two chances followed for Real Betis, but in both situations Padt reacted well. The conceded goal seemed to put a bit of a damper on the home champion, who recovered. Five before the end of “Benito Villamarin” real greatness was seen on the field. The illustrious Joaquin got down the left and showed a bit of magic as he squared Ludogorets with a fantastic shot to double Betis’ lead – 2-0.
Ludogorets continued to play well and in the added time of the first part Kiril Despodov shot from a very small angle from the left. Claudio Bravo deflected the Bulgarian’s foul, but the ball had already crossed his goal line – 1:2.
Sergio Canales attacked the home goal in the 47th minute, and Padt deflected with one hand, so that in the 48th the “Eagles” could realize a wonderful counterattack. Cowley took off down the middle, and with him five of his teammates. He preferred to cross to the right for Thiago, who fired a shot, only for Bravo to step in and send the ball into the corner. After him, Thiago shot again, this time with a head, and the goalkeeper caught it.
Just before an hour had passed, Betis put the ball into the home goal for the third time. Sergio Canales goes past Piotrowski and shoots from mid-range. Padt did not intervene authoritatively enough, on the contrary, and allowed the ball to enter his net for the third time.
Shimunja made several changes after the conceded goal, and one of them brought the necessary result. A quarter of an hour before the end, Rick Jonathan took control after a corner kick and shot measuredly into the ground to leave no chances for the Chilean Bravo.
In added time, Demi Grupper was brought on alone against Claudio Bravo, but the Israeli missed the ball to deny Sevilla an equaliser.
Where to watch the match Betis – Ludogorets on TV?
BETIS: 1. Bravo, 24. Aitor, 19. Luis Felipe, 3. Edgar, 33. Miranda, 4. Akuoku, 18. Guardado, 11. Luis Enrique, 10. Canales, 17. Joaquin, 12. Willian Jose
LUDOGORETS: 1. Padt, 16. Vitri, 3. Nedyalkov, 24. Verdon, 4. Sisinho, 23. Shaw, 6. Piotrovsky, 95. Cowley, 11. Despodov, 37. Tekpetei, 9. Igor Thiago
BEFORE THE MATCH
The Bulgarian champions managed to shock many football fans after they managed to get the better of Roma last Thursday. The Eagles beat Jose Mourinho’s side 2-1 in Razgrad and made a serious claim that they should not be underestimated by anyone.
Real Betis did not make a mistake in their first match of group “C” and defeated the final HIK Helsinki 2:0 as a guest. Manuel Pellegrini’s men are considered by many to be one of the favorites to win this year’s edition of the Europa League.
Many personnel problems are facing the Chilean specialist. Pellegrini will be without Juanmi, Nabil Fekir and Youssef Sabali due to injuries. Ante Shimunja can’t complain about such problems as only Dominik Jankov is questionable ahead of tonight’s clash.
The main referee of the spectacle will be the Latvian Artis Treimanis.