Barcelona, 12 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Sevilla beat derby rivals Real Betis 2-0 on Thursday as top-flight Spanish football resumed after a three-month suspension because of the coronavirus health crisis.
Like all matches in the country for the short-term, one of La Liga’s most passionate rivalries was forced behind closed doors at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
Sevilla’s electric winger Lucas Ocampos scored and set up Fernando for the second goal of a derby shorn of its biggest selling point, the supporters.
The echoes and shouts of the players left a hollow feel, although fans were able to watch on television with added crowd sounds from videogame series FIFA and digital supporters superimposed on the empty lower tier stands.
The match started with an intensity belying the long break, and Ocampos, one of the most impressive players of the season before it was suspended, struck the post with the first real chance.
Jules Kounde headed wide from a corner after being left unmarked at the near post and Luuk de Jong nodded narrowly off-target shortly after as the hosts dominated.
Sevilla took the lead after 56 minutes when Marc Bartra was harshly penalised for clashing with De Jong as he jumped and Ocampos slotted home from the penalty spot.
It was the fifth consecutive league game in which Ocampos has scored – the other four coming back before the league’s suspension.
The Argentine forward produced a brilliant backheel flick to set up Fernando for the second six minutes later, with the Brazilian stooping to head home a deserved second.
“The whole team was good, we knew how to suffer and we knew how to play,” said Ocampos.
“We were strong mentally, we got the first and after that we could manage the game better. A goal up, it’s a bit easier.”
Both teams utilised their full complement of five substitutions, made available by governing body FIFA given the exceptional circumstances around football’s summer restart, and the game wound down without Betis coming close.
“It feels bad that such a small thing can cost you such an important goal,” said Betis coach Rubi on the debatable penalty awarded against his side.
The victory put third-place Sevilla six points behind Real Madrid having played an extra game, while Real Betis, 12th, are not clear of relegation.