Seville, Spain, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- Borja Iglesias, who last week scored a brace to lead Real Betis to a quarterfinal berth in the Copa del Rey, put the ball in the back of the net once again on Monday in the Seville club’s 1-0 home win over Osasuna in LaLiga.
Betis had a golden opportunity to move up to No. 7 in the standings and edge closer to the European qualification zone after the three teams immediately above them in the Spanish-league standings – Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Granada – all settled for draws over the weekend.
Both sides had good opportunities to score in the early going of this Matchday 21 contest at Benito Villamarin Stadium, including a chance in the box for Osasuna’s Jonathan Calleri that Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles came off his line to snuff out and a header by Betis forward Loren that clanked off the woodwork.
At the conclusion of that latter play, an apparent goal by defender Victor Ruiz was ruled out for offside.
Osasuna, however, got the initiative back and nearly opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark, when Robles once again had to intervene to stop a fresh chance for Calleri.
The visitors also produced a couple of goal-scoring chances early in the second half, but winger Ruben Garcia headed the ball over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper in his way and Robles once again stymied Calleri to keep the game scoreless.
Outplayed to that juncture, Betis head coach Manuel Pellegrini sought to provide a spark by sending on Iglesias for Loren and also swapping Joaquin for William Carvalho in midfield.
The home side, who also brought on a striker, Cristian Tello, as a replacement for midfielder Rodri, started seizing control of the contest and would have opened the scoring if not for the efforts of Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, who stopped one attempt by Alex Moreno in the 74th minute and another chance by Tello shortly afterward.
Finally, Betis broke through in the 79th minute when Iglesias received a well-executed long pass from Tello and scored around a charging Herrera.
Afterward, Pellegrini said Real Betis is on the right track but refused to discuss his team’s chances of booking a berth in Europe in the 2021-2022 season, adding that “soccer is very volatile” and that it is “still too soon to talk about objectives.”
With the win, Betis have won three of their last four LaLiga contests and worked themselves back into the top seven of the Spanish league for the first time since the end of Matchday 9.
They now have a pair of difficult home games coming up over the next week – a Copa del Rey quarterfinal contest against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday and a LaLiga contest against second-place FC Barcelona on Sunday.
Osasuna (19 points), who climbed out of the relegation zone by defeating Granada 3-1 in their previous LaLiga match, could fall back in if they slip up next week at home against Eibar. EFE-EPA