Betis need a hand to get three past Wolves in 3-2 pre-season victory
By Oliver Wilson
Europa League qualifiers Real Betis slotted three past Wolverhampton Wanderers thanks to a little help from the home side, as they continued their pre-season tour of England, while Wolves wrapped up their pre-season preparations with a promising performance and two goals in a 3-2 loss.
The home side took the early lead through Richard Stearman but the visitors were level by the interval through a cracking Salva Sevilla strike.
The home side re-took the lead through Leigh Griffiths after the break but two silly mistakes led to easy finishes for Cedrick and Javier Matilla to bag the La Liga side an unimportant victory.
A meagre crowd was in attendance at the Moleniux for Wanderers’ final game of their pre-season and the Midland outfit looked sharp and ready for the new season from the first whistle.
A near full side started for Kenny Jackett’s new club, with Wayne Hennessey the only guaranteed starter left on the subs bench for the home side. Promising wingers Bjorn Sigurdarson and Bakary Sako lead the attack as Wolves found time and space on the flanks to cultivate their attacks. The Icelandic player almost opened the scoring in the first minute as be broke down the left flank but cracked an effort straight at the Betis keeper
The Spanish side, who played Bolton Wanderers less than 24 hours before the afternoon fixture in the Black Country, looked off the pace, and Wolves were able to open up their opponents and test new goalkeeper Guillermo Sara early on.
The breakthrough came inside five minutes for Wolves as their early pressure was rewarded with a Stearman header; the Wolves centre back rising well to nod Danny Batth’s flick past the Betis keeper from close range. A minute later, Wolves could have had two; David Edward’s nodding a looping effort just over the Betis crossbar. Striker Leigh Griffiths looked eager to impress his new boss, but his impatient runs kept the linesman, rather than the Betis defenders, busy, wasting chances and possession with his eagerness to gain the first step on his marker.
Betis, meanwhile, grew into the game, led by the lively Cedrick. The former Numancia winger paced up the left flank, causing problems for Matt Doherty at right back. His pull back to Sevilla on the edge of the box was precisely weighted, allowing the captain to rip an effort from 18-yards past Carl Ikeme to level the score.
Nono almost put the visitors ahead before the break, but his effort was tipped onto the post by the outstretched Wolves keeper, before Batth’s goal line block prevented Sevilla adding his second.
Jackett’s side, despite Betis’ late chances, took the momentum into the interval thanks to another Edwards effort on goal, but the striker, after breaking clean through the heart of the opposition’s defence, could only waste the one-on-one opportunity, guiding his effort straight into the right leg of Sara.
If Wolves were in the ascendency before the interval, they came out from it at the top of the mountain. Sakho and Sigurdarson got to work on the flanks once again, stretching the legs of the Spanish defenders with their runs. The goal, however, came from the centre of the park, as a long loping ball dropped to the feet of Griffiths who, finally finding himself onside, tucked the ball into the back of the net.
Stunned, and maybe a little embarrassed, Betis got back down to work but it wasn’t their hard work that pulled them level. Two misplaced back passes were enough to allow, first Cedrick, and then Javier Matilla to streak down the centre of the pitch, between the parting Wolves defence, and easily steer the ball past Ikeme to give the visitors a 3-2 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Wolves, pressed, but multiple substitutions for both sides interrupted the flow of the match and left the game disjointed. Jacketts side, however, were able to scramble a handful of chances together but some fine goalkeeping denied first substitute Jake Cassidy, and then Matt Doherty, in the final minutes of a thoroughly entertaining tie.
With the Championship season starting next week, Wolves fans will be pleased with their side’s performance against a quality Spanish outfit, although the manner of the last two goals will be a little worrying as they head to Preston North End next week.
Betis will continue their tour of England with games against Fulham, Everton and Hull before their opening day of the La Liga season against Real Madrid.