Real Betis 1-1 Rayo Vallecano: Bebe’s Thunderous Strike Not Enough for Rayo as Late Equalizer Seals It for the Hosts

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Betis secured their triumphant return to the Copa del Rey final on Thursday evening, thanks to a late goal from substitute Borja Iglesias canceling out Rayo Vallecano striker Bebe’s wonder goal just 10 minutes prior. The 1-1 scoreline (3-1 on aggregate) proved to be enough to book Betis’ meeting with Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, their first since winning the competition in 2005.

@GOAL via Twitter

Despite the Spanish government imposing a maximum capacity of 75% at sporting venues, the Estadio Benito Villamarin was roaring as an estimated 44,000 were on hand to witness a massive tie between two clubs who don’t find themselves at this stage of the Copa del Rey very often. Having last lifted the trophy in 2005 and being heavy favorites to progress through the final, Betis had the more accomplished history in the competition with Rayo Vallecano never having made a cup final.

Los Verdiblancos started the game brightly, dominating possession and looking to attack. The best chance of the half fell to Spanish forward Juanmi as his header into the bottom left corner was thwarted by Rayo’s Luca Zidane, who was forced into a diving save to keep the score level. Rayo slowly grew into the game and accumulated a series of corners midway through the half, providing Betis with a sharp reminder that this tie was not over despite Betis holding a 2-1 lead on aggregate. In spite of numerous half chances for both sides, they headed to the locker rooms level.

The opening exchanges of the second half saw Rayo come out with attacking intent, but Betis quickly exerted their will and created the first opportunity as William Carvalho’s deflected drive fell wide of the bottom right corner. As Real Betis continued to pile on pressure through the dynamic play of Nabil Fekir, midfielder Sergio Canales and Carvalho each had 2 shots that were blasted over the bar.

However, Rayo would be the ones to seize momentum as minutes after coming on, substitute Bebe struck one of the goals of the season off a 30 yard freekick that left Betis’ Claudio Bravo with absolutely no chance. A glorious strike full of swerve, power, and dip, it was the goal that every child growing up dreams of scoring.

With the home fans stunned, Betis then immediately tried to respond as Fekir’s cross was deflected by Zidane and appeared to cross the line. Play was waved on, and goal line technology confirmed it seconds later, inciting a roar of disapproval from the Betis fans. Much to Rayo’s dismay, it would prove to be another substitute who decided to play protagonist in the final stages of normal time, this time for Betis. 40 year old club legend Joaquin, fresh off the bench, settled a long ball with a sublime touch before setting up Canales to run through clear on goal with only the keeper to beat. Canales’ deflected shot slowly crept towards the empty net and Spanish striker Borja Iglesias was on hand to tap in the easiest goal of his life, as the ecstatic Betis faithful erupted in celebration.

Victory tonight marks yet another success in what has been a remarkable season for Real Betis as they now have reached a cup final, sitting 3rd in La Liga, and are through into the round of 16 in the Europa League. The fate of their glorious run will be determined on April 23rd as they take on Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.

About Post Author

Adam Echchaibi

Sports journalist who made the mistake of supporting Juventus and Arsenal. Attended the University of Colorado-Boulder 2017-2022.
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  • Sports journalist who made the mistake of supporting Juventus and Arsenal. Attended the University of Colorado-Boulder 2017-2022.

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