Late comeback lifts Espanyol over Real Betis

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Cornella de Llobregat (Spain), April 1 (IANS) RCD Espanyol scored a pair of goals in the final three minutes to post a 2-1 victory over Real Betis as they jumped a place to be provisionally eighth in the La Liga football championship here.

The Friday’s triumph sustains Espanyol’s hopes of snagging a Europa League berth, while leaving Betis mired in the bottom half of the La Liga table, safe from relegation yet far from contention, reports Efe.

Betis were the more determined side in the opening minutes, but the hosts gradually asserted control of the flow of play.

Despite having their way with the Betis defence, Espanyol were plagued by an inability to finish.

The visitors showed more of their early initiative after the restart, winning corner kicks, even as Espanyol flagged.

Both sides got chances — Sanabria for Betis and Diego Reyes for the home side — twice challenging visiting goalkeeper Adan.

The stalemate was shattered in the 76th minute, when the referee awarded a controversial penalty to Betis for a Javi Fuego encounter with Sanabria. Espanyol keeper Diego Lopez guessed correctly, but couldn’t stop the strike from Ruben Castro to make it 1-0 for the visitors.

Though fuming about the penalty, Espanyol kept their composure and Javi Fuego got the equaliser in the 87th minute, converting a cross from Gerard Moreno.

Espanyol turned on the pressure and the winner came in the final minute of regulation, as Jose Antonio Reyes gathered a rebound and whipped the ball into the corner, leaving Adan with no chance.

The win boosts Espanyol to eighth place, with 43 points from 29 matches. Betis, with 31 points, holds down the 13th spot in La Liga.

–IANS

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