This La Liga season is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing and unpredictable in recent years, with shock scorelines aplenty and teams bunching together at both the top and bottom of the table.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid locked together at the summit, and Sevilla surpassing all expectations in third, there remains a large cluster of clubs hoping to secure a spot in next season’s Europa League, or even the final Champion’s League spot.
Athletic Bilbao are firmly among the challengers, and Real Betis are hoping to join them, so Bilbao’s journey to the Estadio Benito Villamarin on Sunday was hotly anticipated. It was a match that certainly didn’t disappoint.
First Half Hat Trick from Betis Veteran
A frenetic opening to the match saw the Real Betis captain Joaquin open the scoring for the home side with just two minutes on the clock, after an Emerson cross found him unmarked in the centre of the box.
The Betis fans were even more jubilant just nine minutes later, when Joaquin grabbed his second goal after an assist from Alex Moreno.
With both Joaquin and his team in hot form, Betis fans saw their dreams come true when Joaquin netted his hat trick goal 20 minutes after a neat pass from Leon Moron.
Not only was this Joaquin’s first ever career hat trick, at 38 years and 140 days he becomes the oldest ever player to score three goals in a match in any of Europe’s top five leagues, breaking the record held by the legendary Alfredo di Stefano.
A Thrilling Fight Back
With the score at 3-0 to Real Betis with half time approaching, the game already looked done and dusted, but it was time for Athletic Bilbao manager Gaizka Garitano to fire his troops up. Garitano was appointed head coach of Bilbao in December last year, and he was facing an unhappy anniversary.
His team had been given a lifeline just before half time when Inaki Williams converted a penalty after a Moreno handball, and this seemed to give Athletic more confidence in the second half. With pressure mounting, their left back Yuri Berchiche scored following a 75th minute set piece, and a rising sense of tension could be felt around the stadium.
Athletic continued to press for an equaliser as Betis dropped deeper and deeper, but the defence held firm despite a number of late scares. The referee’s whistle drew this 3-2 thriller to a close, to the great relief of the supporters in green and white.
A Victory For La Liga
Real Betis are a team on the up, which is great news for all associated with the historic club, including their chief sponsors, online trading company easyMarkets. It seems that in backing Real Betis since the start of the season, they’ve made another winning deal.
The home win propelled Real Betis to 11th in the La Liga table, but just four points behind Athletic Bilbao in sixth. Fans of the Seville based club celebrated late into the Andalusian night, but this was also a victory for fans of La Liga and football in general.
It was a thrilling match with five goals, 18 shots and a hat trick that smashed a record which had stood for over 55 years.