While Real Betis may not be renowned for opening day La Liga (LL) victories, Manuel Pellegrini’s men swept Elche aside with a 3-0 victory to secure just their second top-tier matchday one win in eight attempts.
Still smarting from missing out on UEFA Champions League football last season, Real Betis started well as they began their quest for a place at Europe’s top table for the first time since 2005. Rodri came tantalisingly close to firing them into the lead after just two minutes, but his curling effort drifted just wide of the post. John Nwankwo’s dismissal for a hefty challenge on Aitor Ruibal certainly didn’t help Elche, and the visitors were the masters of their own downfall in comical circumstances when Betis took the lead.
Elche defender Enzo Roco thought he had successfully ushered the ball out of play, but the ball was only rolling along the line and Nabil Fekir took full advantage, picking his pocket and squaring for Borja Iglesias to tap home. With a man and a goal advantage, it became merely a procession for Betis, who doubled their advantage before the break when the Elche defence only partially cleared William Carvalho’s raking pass before Juanmi pounced.
The second half was much the same, with Betis relentlessly attacking and subsequently peppering Édgar Badía’s goal. A third strike eventually came, though, and the influential Fekir was again involved. Badia fumbled his cross straight to the feet of Juanmi, who coolly dinked over the Elche stopper before rolling into an empty net. Despite his mistake allowing Betis to place the game beyond any reasonable doubt, Elche had Badia to thank for the margin of victory not being widened.
Juanmi had chances to wrap up an opening day hat-trick, but the shot-stopper was proving to be an immovable object in the latter stages of the game, preventing Los Verdiblancos from finding a fourth which would have seen them top the LL standings outright. Pellegrini won’t care about his side’s position after matchday one, however, but rather the three points on the board and a strong start to the season. As for Elche, away form continues to be an area in need of improvement after just four wins in their last 20 league outings on their travels, but this match won’t define their campaign.