José A. Espina
Betis lost (again) as guests of Olympique Lyonnais but secure their place in the next stage of the Europa League after Group H rivals Freiburg ran out 2-1 winners at Liberec.
The opening 45 minutes was what you might expect of two teams who are not exactly jumping for joy at the moment – Betis, mired at the foot of the table and Lyon, light years away from their glory-filled days. Les Gomes were hardly recognizable at all at Stade Gerland tonight, and not because instead of playing in their familiar all-white kit, they were in their third, all-blue kit – for marketing purposes, apparently.
With big guns Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina unavailable, strike duties fell to Cedrick. The Congolese forward couldn’t be faulted for a lack of enthusiasm – but he looked sheepish in front of goal. He was the best of a bad bunch and a vast improvement on Verdú who put in a slick display in how to give possession away to your opponents. The only Betis shot between all three posts in the first half fell to Salva and even that didn’t enter.
That’s not to suggest that the visitors were in any way outclassed by Lyon. Rémi Grade’s troops were only fortified after the introduction of Bafétimbi Gomis at half-time. The Congolese striker tapped in the only goal of the game on the hour and even after Mel handed youth team pearl Pepelu his first team debut, Betis offered little to change the result. The Verdiblancos now must beat Rijeka and hope Lyon stumble against Guimarães to end the group stage as champions of their section.