Real Betis pushed Real Madrid to the edge at Estadio Benito Villamarín but Los Blancos emerged victorious in the end with a slender 3-2 scoreline. Two from Cristiano Ronaldo and one from Gonzalo Higuain.
This was Jose Mourinho’s 100th La Liga game as manager of Real Madrid and Higuain returned to the stadium he made his debut in 5 years ago.
The game started off badly for us as Real Betis took the lead in the 10th minute through Jorge Molina. Alvaro Arbeloa was slow to get back to position and then cut back the quick attack. The defense then allowed too much time and space inside the box for Molina to score from. Ruben Castro provided the assist. 1-0 to Betis.
Higuain brought parity to the proceedings 15 minutes later by outrunning the Betis defender having received a ball over the top from Mesut Ozil. The Argentine raised suspicion of offside but replays suggested he was onside. 1-1 in the 25th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance later in the half to extend lead when he was one on one with Betis goalkeeper Fabricio but the Pichichi leader was denied by the quick reactions of the goalkeeper to deflect the shot away for a corner.
This is how the score remained as teams went into the tunnel. 1-1 with Real Betis enjoying the better share of golden opportunities.
Strangely, Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez, the referee for the game took the duty of being the fourth official in the second half. It is claimed he got injured in the first half.
We took the lead 7 minutes into the second half with Ronaldo scoring off of Marcelo’s assist. Marcelo tried to chip the ball over the defender but overplayed it only for Ronaldo to shoot it in the back of the net with his left foot. Real Betis defense caught napping on that occasion. Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid in the 52nd minute.
Betis didn’t take long in bringing things back to square one. Jefferson Montero the scorer for the team from Sevilla as no one picked up the player inside the box and yet again Alvaro Arbeloa the guilty party for reacting the slowest. Betis 2-2 Real Madrid in the 55th minute.
In the 73rd minute, Real Madrid won a corner. Kaka took the free kick, Ramos headed it on target and Fabricio’s save fell on to the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo who made no mistake in lashing it into the net. Betis 2-3 Real Madrid with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Later on Ramos played a fantastic long ball for Ronaldo and the Portuguese controlled it beautifully only for the shot to go just wide off the corner of the goal.
The second half had two instances of controversy with Alonso handballing inside the area but the referee didn’t blow the whistle. After the match, Alonso admitted that it was indeed a handball but claimed it wasn’t intentional. The other moment came in the final seconds of the match when Ramos tried to block a shot with hints of handball inside the area. To be fair to the referee, the second one was difficult to call because it touched his thigh and hand at probably the same time. Not even TV replays could ascertain it for sure.
One positive of the game came towards the end of the match with Karim Benzema coming on 2 minutes before the 90th minute mark in place of Mesut Ozil. It is a positive sign for the player, the club and more importantly Mourinho to have the Frenchman fit and ready to play with CSKA Moscow visiting the Bernabeu in midweek for the second leg of UEFA Champions League. The first leg finished 1-1.
It was an absolutely horrible game for Alvaro Arbeloa who was slow to react on many instances, failed to get back into his position to maintain formation and his crosses in the first half were poor at best. If the same remains and Mourinho (or the next manager) does not use Dani Carvajal from Castilla, it would be time to buy in a stronger right back because Arbeloa is not the best option.
It was also a pretty bad game for Kaka. The Brazilian played the best game in a Real Madrid shirt last week against Espanyol and today he was invisible. He lacked the pace and the creativity to get past Betis’ players. If you saw the game and didn’t see him much (but for the yellow card), you would be forgiven to think we were down to ten men.
We were terribly lucky to have 3 points from this game. Betis were unlucky to not have the handball decisions in their favour and a draw would probably have been a fair result given how the game went.
STAT ATTACK: This is Real Madrid’s 7th remontada (comeback) this season. They are one away from their record of 8 in 1996/97. (Source)
Mourinho’s record in 100 games: 77 wins, 13 draws, 10 losses, 274 goals scored and 81 goals conceded. Pep Guardiola after 100 games: 71 wins, 19 draws, 10 losses, 242 goals scored and 76 goals conceded. (Source)