The Bulgarian champion Ludogorets played an extremely strong match during their visit to Real Betis in Spain, but lost their second meeting from the Europa League groups with 2:3. Early expectations were for Los Verdiblancos to dominate, but the Eagles displayed excellent compact play and it was only small details and luck that brought victory to Manuel Pellegrini’s men. The Eagles also became the first team in the new season to score at the Benito Villamarin, with Betis so far the absolute dominant force when hosting rivals at their arena.
Ludogorets could have reached the point, but at the very end of the match, Denny Gruper made a terrible mistake after being brought into the penalty area of Real Betis and alone against Bravo sent the ball to the side instead of the Chilean’s goal.
Luis Enrique gave Betis the lead in the 26th minute and legend Joaquin doubled the lead for his side with a wonderful goal in the 40th minute. Kiril Despodov reduced the deficit of the people of Razgrad in the added time of the first part, so that Sergio Canales could increase to 3:1 in the 59th. Substitute Rick Jonathan made it 2-3 with a fine strike in the 75th minute, and in stoppage time, reserve Gruper missed a great chance for the Eagles when he could have made it 3-3, coming out alone against goalkeeper Bravo.
Ludogorets reinforced their good performances since the start of the Europa League group stage with a 2-1 win over Roma and it could be argued that the team is returning to its good old form in the European club competitions. At this moment, the “Eagles” remain third with three points, the same as the second team from Rome, but the “Wolves” have better indicators in terms of goal difference. Betis is first with six points after two wins, while HIK Helsinki remains fourth with zero points. The next obstacle for Ludogorets in Europe is against the Finnish team, as Ante Shimunja’s team visits Finland on October 6.
In the second minute of the match, Pauli Akuku and Manuel Shaw of the home team hit their heads badly in an aerial duel, but luckily for both of them they continued to play. Two minutes later, defender Rubial joined the Verdiblancos attack and combined to double with William Jose to attempt an aerial shot from the arc that was too weak. In the tenth, Betis had claims for a penalty which were not honored by Latvian referee Treimanis.
The hosts kept the ball more and more, but the Ludogorets defense was too compact and there were no chances in front of Padt’s goal in the first 10 minutes. Cuadrado took a free-kick after a set piece, but the Dutchman saved. In the counter-attack, Tekpetei made a lovely pass to Thiago, who went past the goalkeeper Bravo and shot, but wide of the Betis goal. After that, the side referee picked up an ambush on the Brazilian striker of the “Eagles”.
In the 18th, Shaw stole the ball from Rubial’s feet on the left and advanced, and the Real Betis right-back caught up with the Razgrad midfielder and fouled him diagonally from the goal, guarded by Bravo. Behind the ball stood Despodov, who tried to find Igor Thiago with a cross, but Edgar Gonzalez cleared the ball with his head. In the 21st, Igor Tiago attacked the ball after a cross from Kiril Despodov’s corner kick, but sent the ball wide of Bravo’s goal. Ludogorets imposed pressure, which also brought chances for the native champion. In the 23rd, Tekpetei feinted to the right and created space to shoot to force Bravo into the mix.
In the 25th minute of the match, the hosts took the lead. Initially, Cicinho made a very bad mistake on the right and allowed Luis Enrique to shoot. Paddt cleared wide and the ball went to the left for Canales who shot but again Paddt intervened. In the end, a diagonal cross from the left came from full-back Miranda, for Enrique to beat Sisinho again and from close range – 1:0.
On the ensuing attack, Jakub Piotrvksi broke in from the right and crossed, and the ball was cleared and went to Cowley. The playmaker sent a powerful shot from ten meters, and Bravo boxed the ball, then caught it. Five before the end, the 41-year-old famous football player of the home team – Joaquin, got to the left and pushed the ball on his right foot. The experienced footballer made a magnetic shot on the diagonal, which was unsalvageable for Padt.
In the 45th, Akuku once again came into a heavy collision with Manuel Shaw, and the ball went to the left for Tekpetei, who easily went past Aitor Rubial, but the defender held the offensive player of Ludogorets and fouled him, for which he received a yellow card. During the performance, Kiril Despodov shot from a small angle, and Bravo intervened, but the ball crossed the goal line of Betis and the result became 1:2.
The second part in “Benito Villamarin” started without changes in both teams from Pellegrini and Shimunja. In the 47th, Akuku fouled Shaw and received a yellow card for his action. Three after the restart, Canales fired dangerously from the right with a diagonal shot and Padt one-handedly sent the ball into the corner. After him, Ludogorets organized a great counter-action through Cowley. The Brazilian mastered and seriously advanced towards the goal of Betis, and with him five other players were carried away. Cowley fed a right for Thiago, who fired hard, but Bravo cleared with both hands for a corner.
After him, Thiago shot a header after a cross from Cauley, but the goalkeeper of the Spaniards saved. A minute before an hour had passed, the Verdiblancos scored for the third time. Sergio Canales went past Jakub Piotrowski and fired a left-footed shot into the ground. Padt didn’t make a good enough tackle, letting the ball slip through his hands and into his goal for the third time.
Shimunja made two changes, bringing on Grouper and Nonato, who replaced Von Vitri and Manuel Shaw. In the 75th minute, Rick Jonathan, who entered shortly after the first two shifts for Ludogorets, controlled the ball, which was cleared at a corner kick, and sent it to the ground with a low and technical kick to parry Bravo – 2:3.
In stoppage time, Demi Grupper made a huge mistake after being singled out in Real Betis’ penalty area and alone against Bravo sent the ball wide instead of into the Chilean’s goal.
FT / REAL BETIS – LUDOGORETS 3:2
1:0 Luis Enrique (26)
2:0 Joaquin (40)
2:1 Kiril Despodov (45+2)
3:1 Sergio Canales (59)
3:2 Rick Jonathan (75)
Group C, Europa League
Stadium: Benito Villamarin, Seville
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)
Real Betis: 1. Claudio Bravo – 24. Aitor Rubial