|Valencia (0)||Real Betis (3)|
|57′ Willian Jose|
87′ Sergio Canales
89′ Borja Iglesias
This was Valencia’s chance for payback at the Mestalla, an opportunity to show Real Betis that their Copa Del Rey victory was a mere fluke.
But what followed only highlighted the gulf in quality between the two sides, as Manuel Pellegrini’s men showed how much work awaited Jose Bordalas and his team in the summer if Los Che are to fight for a place in Europe next season.
While the Bats had 19 shots in total as compared to the visitors’ 10, they ultimately paid for their profligacy as Betis gave them a masterclass in clinical finishing.
Trying to snap a 7 match winless streak, Los Che had kicked off proceedings with some high-octane football as they tirelessly pressed and harried the visitors, using their Copa heartbreak as fuel. Jesus Vasquez and Thierry Correria were stationed so high up the pitch that they were more wingers than fullbacks.
Ilaix Moriba, sporting an eye-catching haircut with a white lightning bolt etched on one side of his head, was looking to be Valencia’s spark with a couple of piledrivers that tested Betis keeper Rui Silva.
Gil probably had the best chance of the first half, directing a point-blank header straight into the arms at Silva. These missed opportunities would eventually come to haunt them.
There was a worry that with Valencia having expended so much energy in the first half, they would gas out in the second. True enough, the nitro in their engines soon emptied as Betis took the initiative.
In the 55th minute, the home side were left stunned after a quick Betis counter saw former Valencia man Sergio Canales finding frontman Willian Jose in the box, who finished through the legs of Giorgi Mamardashvili.
Bordalas responded by throwing more bodies in attack, sending on Maxi Gomez and Goncalo Guedes for additional firepower. But it was a tactical change that backfired. His defence, already decimated with the absence of Jose Gaya, Gabriel Paulista and Hugo Guillamon, was left even more exposed as Valencia committed more men up front.
Betis saw the gaps and exploited them to devastating effect, as quick-fire goals from Canales and Borja Iglesias in the dying minutes of the game saw the Bats dropping down to 11th in the league.
The faster this season ends for us, the better. Bordalas clearly needs to go back to the drawing board – a season that had initially promised so much is in danger of ending on a whimper.