Ah, yes. Happiness is arriving back in Seville after 10 days away, dumping your stuff at home and heading straight out for a bar showing the football, sitting down as the players come out for the second half and hearing that "el Betis va ganando" (Betis are winning). From what I can gather, they were a bit fortunate to be doing so after a first 45 minutes that Zaragoza had much the better of, but from the break onwards - the bit I saw, in other words - there was only ever one likely winner. Betis looked very comfortable leading away from home, doubled their advantage not long into the second period and should have been about four-up by the time the home side got a clever equaliser with 13 minutes left. Even then, the team in green looked the more probable next scorers. It was a very nice win indeed.
Pepe Mel sprung a slight surprise with his starting 11, playing Nosa on the wing, with Joel Campbell on the other. And it was the latter, after Zaragoza had missed one or two good opportunities, who stroked a shrewd through-ball from the halfway line just before the break, allowing Rubén Castro to beat the offside trap and do what he does so well - ie, make putting the ball in the back of the net look effortless.
Betis have shown time and time again this season, that one-up away from home is exactly where they like to be and so it proved again. In the second half, with Zaragoza pressing forward a little too hurriedly, Pepe Mel's side were able to get among them in midfield, turn scraps of possession into rapid-fire counterattacks and create a series of really decent chances. If the best one of all was missed - when substitute Jorge Molina fired wide of the target from all of eight yards just after coming on - we didn't have to wait long for the Betis No. 19 to make amends. He was lucky that Zaragoza central defender Álvaro passed the ball straight to him in midfield, but he still had to beat the same player on the way to goal and then get the ball past keeper - both of which he did with some aplomb - so it should count as solid finishing. Molina has missed quite a few good opportunities lately, and his celebration certainly looked like that of a relieved man.
The record books show that Zaragoza got a goal back - when Motañés turned and shot sharply into the bottom left-hand corner from just outside the area - but in truth Betis had the game pretty much under control by then and would have gone further ahead if Rubén Castro, Jorge Molina or Joel Campbell had taken advantage of good positions in the final 20 minutes. The home fans went home very frustrated, but they were only witnessing first-hand what we've seen repeatedly this season: with a solid defensive system and a speedy front three, Betis are very hard to beat, especially away from Seville. They now have 31 points - about two months ahead of schedule - and need just a draw next weekend at home to Levante to finish the first half of the season in fifth place at worst. Who'da thunk it?
Betis: Adrián; Chica, Mario, Amaya, Nacho; Cañas, Nosa (Jorge Molina, min.53), Beñat (Rubén Pérez, min.78) ; Joel Campbell, Salva Sevilla (Pozuelo, min.71), Rubén Castro.
Goals: 0-1, min.44: Rubén Castro. 0-2, min. 57: Molina. 1-2, min.77: Montañés.