Celtic lose 4—3 in Seville to Real Betis, after being 2—0 up and conceding four goals in two, two minutes spells, before and after half-time. I didn’t know much about Real Betis. Usually, we struggle against Spanish teams, by Spanish teams we usually mean Barcelona. In the first thirty minutes, we saw more of the ball than we did in all the combined games against the best club team in the world. In fact, I thought we were Barcelona. We ripped Real Betis to shreds and they couldn’t get the ball off us. We played like Spaniards. All over the park, we were better. João Pedro Neves Filipe (Jota) was almost in on goal after only two minutes.
Jota, who played on the right, had a good case for man of the match, before tiring late in the game. He jinked past the full back and flung a ball in. Albian Ajeti nicked in front of his marker to bundle the ball into the net with his hip. It was three goals in two games for the striker. But the referee blew for handball. A long wait from VAR before the goal was finally awarded with thirteen minutes on the clock. Ajeti had already tried his luck with an easy save from the keeper, but this one counted.
Hart made a couple of decent saves from Fakir before we scored out second goal. Ones you’d expect our captain to make. Ismaila Soro had been booked and he made another wild challenge—he should really have been taken off. Tom Rogic’s magic feet fashioned another chance for Ajeti before the Swiss striker won us a penalty. Bravo wiped him out. VAR checked for Ajeti being offside before he was played into the box by Rogic.
I’m not sure who the designated penalty taker is now that Edouard—the serial penalty misser—is away, but Josip Juranovic stepped up. Playing left back or right back, he seems unfazed. It was one of those penalties where the keeper had no chance. 27 minutes in and Celtic are in—I—wonderland.
Here’s the thing, playing superb, but I don’t think a two-goal lead is enough. We had our own two-minute spell. Jota is picked out again. Coming in from the right, he tries to dink the ball over Bravo, but it falls flat, he stick out a hand and easily saves it. 3—0 and that might have been enough. Even then, Ajeti is first to the rebound, but flaps and mishits. He sends the ball back towards the goalkeeper and not the goal.
A minute later, Juan Miranda hits the Celtic post. It’s a shoot-out we’re winning until we lose. Betis score two in two minutes. The ball ricochets around the penalty box, the Celtic defence fails to clear and Miranda finds himself six yards from goal, the ball at his feet. He beats Hart. 32 minutes gone and Celtic need to knuckle down.
Pellegrini’s team that haven’t been in the match equalise in 34 minutes. Juanmi scores a tap in. Carter-Vickers fails in his attempt to play off-side, but overall it’s hard to blame the Spur’s loanee. He had quite a good game. I find it difficult to criticise any of the team, even though we lost two more goals.
Rogic created the best of the early second-half chances. He picked out Ajeti in the area, but he took too long to hit it and was closed down.
48 minutes gone, Miranda is finding a lot of space down Ralston’s right. He sends a ball across the six-yard box. Juanmi slides in, but can’t get a toe to it.
Sergio Canales works down the same flank two minute later. Borja Iglesias is allowed to runs across the front of our defence. There’s enough pace on the ball, he flicks it with the outside of his boot away from Hart at the near post. Five-minutes into the second half and Celtic for the first time are behind.
Two minutes later its capitulation. Juanmi claims his second goal of the night. Everyone knows Celtic can’t defend corners. But I’d classify this as unlucky. The ball is cleared to the edge of the box. Juanmi takes a touch on his chest. He fires in off the far post through a ruck of players. Hart, the Celtic captain, is another who played well. He had no chance, and it was one of those shots he could have taken on 1000 times and only scored once—when it mattered.
There was no surprise with Soro being taken off to be replaced by McCarthy, but the game looked beyond us. But I’m a big fan of the dog’s chance. Ajeti met Rogic’s cross and flashed a great header into the net, but he was clearly offside.
But as with Jota in the first half, the Portuguese winger beat his man again and flung in a cross. Rogic catches it sweet at the back post. Juanmi’s effort goes in. Rogic’s comes off the post.
Twenty minutes remaining, Betis bring on three substitutes, and use their full complement of five. Celtic have no firepower on the bench. Jota plays on, despite showing signs of cramp.
With two minutes of the ninety remaining, we get a consolation goal. We hope for more than that, but that’s what it proved. Turnbull flings in a free kick. Ralston attacks it and scores. Celtic score three goals, but lose four.
Disappointing, but not surprising. Celtic continue with their away losing streak, but this seems even more unlucky than at Ibrox. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. As the season continues we’ll be able to answer more fully. Still early days, but I can’t see us picking up many points in the Europa league. We’re too open, but we’re in a far better place than under Lennon. We’re no longer stagnating and going backwards. It’s forward or burst.