Sevilla eased to a 2-0 win over local rivals Real Betis in La Liga’s behind-closed-doors return at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Thursday.
Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring from the penalty spot early in the second half, with former Manchester City midfielder Fernando netting the second goal with a close-range header shortly afterwards.
The derby clash was the first game in Spain’s top tier since March 10 following the coronavirus pandemic and featured artificial crowd noise as well as virtual fans superimposed on the stands.
How Sevilla outclassed Betis
Sevilla’s home advantage was lessened without the atmosphere that usually accompanies these games, but they dominated from the start, creating their first chance when the dangerous Ocampos charged into the Betis box and slammed a diagonal shot against the bar in the 10th minute.
There was another let-off for the visitors 11 minutes later, when Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde misjudged a free header from a corner, sending his effort harmlessly wide of Joel Robles’ near post.
Sevilla: Vaclik (6), Navas (7), Kounde (7), Diego Carlos (8), Reguilon (7), Jordan (7), Fernando (8), Oliver Torres (7), Ocampos (9), Munir (7), De Jong (7)
Subs: En-Nesyri (6), Banega (6), Suso (6), Vazquez (6), Escudero (6)
Real Betis: Robles (6), Emerson (6), Bartra (6), Sidnei (5), Moreno (6), Rodriguez (6), Alena (6), Canales (6), Fekir (6), Tello (5), Borja (5)
Subs: Feddal (6), Lainez (6), Moron (6), Joaquin (6), Pedraza (6)
Man of the match: Lucas Ocampos
Sevilla continued to pour forward and went close to breaking the deadlock again shortly afterwards, when Luuk de Jong glanced another header wide from Munir El Haddadi’s teasing cross.
Up at the other end, Betis rarely threatened, with Nabil Fekir struggling to get involved in the game and Sergio Canales shooting speculatively over from long range.
Ocampos was denied again just before half-time, with Robles parrying his powerful drive, but the Argentine didn’t have to wait long to get his goal, converting his penalty coolly after Marc Bartra was harshly adjudged to have pushed De Jong in the back early in the second half.
Ocampos played a crucial role in Sevilla’s second goal just six minutes later, skilfully flicking a corner into the six-yard box and allowing the unmarked Fernando to head past Robles.
The two sides were visibly tiring at that point, the tempo unsurprisingly slowing down following the three-month lay-off, with managers Julen Lopetegui and Rubi both using the full complement of five substitutes.
Real Betis did show some improvement in the closing stages, however, with Joaquin, one of Rubi’s substitutes, seeing a shot blocked and Alfonso Pedraza, another substitute, then denied by an excellent intervention from Sevilla defender Diego Carlos.
It was not quite the full-throttle fixture it might have been in normal circumstances, but for Champions League-chasing Sevilla, it was an important victory which puts them three points behind second-placed Real Madrid. Betis, meanwhile, remain in 12th place.
Man of the match – Lucas Ocampos
Ocampos was the star of the show at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, his driving runs on Sevilla’s right flank causing Real Betis problems throughout. His penalty took him to 11 goals for the season, and his superb assist for Sevilla’s second was the highlight of the match.
Sevilla travel to Levante on Monday, with kick-off at 6.30pm, while Real Betis are at home to Granada, starting at the later time of 9pm.