Real Betis 2-3 Real MadridRamos converts late penalty
A late second half penalty conversion from Sergio Ramos capped a second half rally for Real Madrid in a 3-2 victory at Betis on Saturday night at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in Sevilla.
The visitors struck first with a Fede Valverde goal, before Betis answered in rapid-fire fashion through Mandi and William Carvalho before half time.
Real would re-group in the second half and pulled level through an own goal from Emerson, who then was sent off with 20 minutes to go. That paved the way for Real’s late push in which a handball allowed Ramos to score from the spot for the winning goal.
Coach Zinedine Zidane revealed a big surprise in his starting XI, with little-used Luka Jovic getting a rare nod up top with Karim Benzema. Also included was Martin Odegaard in a midfield consisting of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde, giving Zidane a 4-4-2 formation.
There was no shortage of chances in the early stages, including a free header from Antonio Sanabria that looked every bit destined for the back of the net, only for Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a save that will likely to rank among the season’s best by next May.
A Benzema goal was ruled out for offside, so the Frenchman took it upon himself to create a goal and some wizardry with the ball to beat a defender led to a cross that met the foot of Valverde, who split a pair of defenders and stabbed home for a 0-1 Real lead.
Betis became the stronger side as the half wore on, with most of the play occurring in the Real half. The efforts of the hosts finally bore fruit when an inch-perfect pass from Sergio Canales met the rising Mandi, who soared over Real centre-back Raphael Varane and headed in past Courtois to make it 1-1.
The momentum was with Betis and before Real knew it, they were down 2-1 when Canales linked up with Fekir, who slipped a pass into William Carvalho and the sizzling right-footer from the Portuguese beat Courtois.
The second Betis goal shook Real out of the doldrums and Benzema nearly snuck in the equaliser, but the half still ended on a sour note with Kroos leaving injured and Luka Modric taking the German’s place.
Zidane then made his second change during intermission, as Isco came on for Odegaard. Real would race out of the gates to start the second stanza and it was quickly 2-2 when a deep Carvajal cross for Benzema was redirected into the Betis goal by Emerson.
Benzema was a thorn in the side of the Betis defence and it took the underside of the crossbar to prevent him from scoring, with the ball needing just another half-inch to fully cross the line.
There was some more controversy when Real howled for an Emerson handball in the area, and then again minutes later when pressure from behind from Emerson on Jovic spoiled a Real breakaway.
The latter went to VAR and it was concluded that Emerson denied a goal-scoring opportunity, resulting in a red card for the Betis man.
With the man advantage, it was all Real in the final 20-plus minutes and Zidane made his final change, replacing Jovic with Borja Mayoral.
There was a sense that a winner would come in short order, but it took another decision from VAR to do it, as Marc Bartra was flagged for a handball when trying to fend off Mayoral in the box. Ramos, as always, coolly converted the spot kick to give Real a 2-3 lead that they easily held until the final whistle.
2.- Betis: Joel, Emerson, Mandi, Bartra, Alex Moreno, Guido, William, Joaquin (Tello, min. 63), Canales, Fekir (Loren, min. 73), Sanabria.
3.- Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos (Modric, min. 45), Valverde, Odegaard (Isco, min. 46), Jovic (Mayoral, min. 72), Benzema
Goals: 0-1, min. 14: Fede Valverde; 1-1, min. 35: Mandi; 2-1, min. 38: Carvalho; 2-2, min. 48: Emerson (og); 2-3, min. 82: Ramos (p)
Referee: De Burgos Bengoetxea (Basque). Cards: Emerson (Min. 12) for Betis, Guido (Min. 40) for Betis, Carvajal (Min. 42) for Real Madrid, Modric (Min. 53) for Real Madrid, Bartra (Min. 81) for Betis, Canales (Min. 84) for Betis
Red cards: Emerson (Min. 68) for Betis
Stadium: Benito Villamarin