x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Betis missing Sobis after another blank

While Rafael Sobis made his Al Jazira debut on Saturday night against Al Wahda in a half-empty Al Nayan Stadium, his former club Sevilla were involved in a derby on a much grander stage.

Sevilla's keeper Andres Palop grabs the ball off the toes of the Betis striker Mariano Pavone.
Sevilla's keeper Andres Palop grabs the ball off the toes of the Betis striker Mariano Pavone.

While Rafael Sobis made his Al Jazira debut on Saturday night against Al Wahda in a half-empty Al Nayan Stadium, his former club Sevilla were involved in a derby on a much grander stage a day later, facing Real Betis in front of a capacity 52,000 crowd at the Estadio Ruiz de Lopera. While the game between the two fierce Seville rivals was played in an electric atmosphere, it ended like so many derbies in a tense goalless draw.

Sevilla have title aspirations but Betis, who have struggled badly in recent years, have yet to score so far this season. Even so, the Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca was happy with Sevilla's point. "I think the draw is fair because we did not play good football, and if we cannot win then we should at least try to avoid defeat and that was what we did today," he said. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola claimed a cutting edge was the only real difference after his team clinched their first Primera Liga win of the season with a 6-1 mauling of Sporting Gijon.

The Catalan giants came into this match with much to prove after a slow start to the season, which included an opening-day defeat at Numancia and a stuttering draw at home to Racing Santander. "To be honest, this game was very similar to those we've already played," said Guardiola. "We were better in front of goal and for that reason we have won three valuable points." Goals from Xavi and Samuel Eto'o gave the visitors a comfortable lead at half-time and an own goal from Jorge Garcia extended their advantage just short of the hour.

Francisco Maldonado pulled one back for the hosts a minute later but any chance of a Sporting revival disappeared when Gerard was shown the red card for holding back Lionel Messi in the area. Barca made their numerical advantage count as Andres Iniesta netted a fourth after 70 minutes and Messi bagged a late brace to complete the top-flight newcomers' humiliation. The Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has warned there is plenty more to come from his side after the champions moved to within a point of the Primera Liga's leading pack.

Ruben De La Red and Van Nistelrooy scored the goals in a 2-0 win at Santander. But the former Holland frontman said: "The fact that we played well is what I'll take from this match. This is Real Madrid. We know that the score isn't all that counts. We aren't leaving completely satisfied. We know we must improve and where. It is still September." Valencia sit top of the pile after an 83rd-minute Juan Mata goal saw them beat Osasuna 1-0.

* With agencies