Real Betis came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at Vallecas tonight. Alvaro Garcia fired Rayo into a fifth-minute lead only for Borja Iglesias to get Betis back on level terms in the 26th. William Carvalho then managed to win the match with a golazo in the 68th.
Rayo beat Guijuelo, Bergantinos, Mirandes, Girona and Mallorca to make it this far in Spain’s oldest national competition. Betis beat CFI Alicante, Talavera, Real Valladolid, Sevilla, and Real Sociedad to make it to the Spanish capital tonight.
Both clubs have been performing superbly in La Liga this season. Rayo, newly promoted from Segunda, are currently ninth in the league table having taken 31 points from their opening 22 games. They have, however, lost three of their last five.
Betis are flying even higher. The Andalusian outfit are currently third in La Liga, meaning that if the season ended as things stand they’d qualify for next season’s Champions League. They’re currently two points clear of fourth-placed Barcelona and have won two and lost two of their last five.
Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini was asked post-match whether he thought that the fact his team would have to wait a month to play the return leg could affect them. “I don’t care,” he said as carried by Marca. “Now we’re focused on La Liga, Levante, and then the Europa League arrives. We’d do it the same way if it were next week, then we’d also be focused on Levante.
There are 14 games in 40 days. We’ll do the necessary rotations and there’s no problem because the challenge will be the same. There’s no euphoria. There’s joy, but the people who’ve been in football for a long time know that it’s not definitive and the visitors can still win [in the return leg at the Benito Villamarin]. There’s no euphoria and we don’t feel like we’ve qualified.”