Betis, after an acceptable first half, fell justly to a more energetic Sparta, who knew how to take advantage of Haraslin's goal very well and defended the subsequent Andalusian attack with order. With this defeat, which ends a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Green and Whites, Betis is forced to win on the last day of the group against Rangers at the Benito Villamarín. If they win, they will go through as group winners, although they are forced to play a whole final in the middle of December. A weak Betis, where Fekir returned without rhythm and with an eleven full of substitutes (up to nine changes from the eleven that won against Las Palmas). The rotations did not go well for Manuel Pellegrini and his team lost a good chance of securing qualification for the round of <>. With a draw, they would have qualified and the Andalusian team sinned of playing with a certain conservatism.
Peter Vindahl, Filip Panak, Ladislav Krejci, Martin Vitík, Kaan Kairinen, Qazim Laci, Jaroslav Zeleny, Angelo Preciado, Haraslin (Pesek, min. 74), Veljko Birmancevic (Lukás Sadílek, min. 82) and Jan Kuchta
Rui Silva, Pezzella, Marc Roca, Abner, Aitor Ruibal, Guardado (Willian José, min. 84), Guido Rodríguez, Abde (Ayoze Pérez, min. 70), Fekir (Isco Alarcón, min. 45), Assane Diao and Borja Iglesias
Goals 1-0 min. 53: Haraslin.
Arbitrator Nikola Dabanovic
Yellow cards: Aitor Ruibal (min. 22), Veljko Birmancevic (min. 38), Pezzella (min. 69), Juan Miranda (min. 88) and Guido Rodríguez (min. 91)
Betis only lacked a goal in a first half where they exerted absolute dominance against a very timid Sparta. A Betis team that Fekir returned to the starting line-up nine months later and that lived off the good game of Assane Diao, a real diamond in the rough at 18 years of age. Betis gave a warning with several shots on goal from the Czech goal, until Diao invented a great pass to Borja Iglesias. Vindahl blocked the paths of the goal from the green-and-white striker. Fekir, out of shape, complained of his long inactivity and only offered details of his great class.
Sparta, much more intense, ran roughshod over Betis in the second half. The Andalusian team were not at all fine and not even the introduction of Isco for Fekir gave them superiority. Haraslin scored and it was the Betis team's turn to attack in search of an equaliser. Sparta defended with order, also helped by Betis' lack of ideas, too flat. Even so, Isco had two clear chances to equalize. in the first, defender Panak saved the Spaniard's shot under the posts and, subsequently, a cross from Isco himself from the left wing was about to surprise Vindahl. Pellegrini brought on a lot of starters in the closing stages, but Betis couldn't find answers against a very withdrawn opponent. At the height of Betis' misfortune, Guido saw a yellow card that will prevent him from playing the last matchday against Rangers.
Villarreal suffer but progress to the next round
Villarreal, on the other hand, were able to overcome a Panathinaikos team that had already beaten them in Greece at La Cerámica. But they did so with more suffering than expected after having a three-goal lead – Baena, Comesaña and Morales were the scorers – in the end in a hurry (3-2). Although they are already at least in the playoffs for the round of <> and in the fight for first place in the group, three points behind Rennes with a game in hand, which would give them the direct safe-conduct.
You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on Facebook and X, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.