Objective achieved for Quique Setien. Since taking over Real Betis at the end of last season, the target has always been to return the Seville club to Europe and now it’s mathematically confirmed.
Victory over Malaga in the Andalusian derby on Monday night puts Betis out of the reach of seventh place Getafe and looking forward to the Europa League next year – their first participation since the 2013–14 season.
The Estadio Benito Villamarín was bouncing ahead of the tie and the fans were confident of victory against the already relegated Malaga.
The side from the Costa del Sol, however, still had pride to play for and started strongest. After just six minutes midfielder Adrián came close when he chested down a poor headed clearance before volleying wide.
Minutes later, Diego Rolán showed good close control in the area to turn the defender but his shot went straight at Pedro in the Betis goal.
Maxime Lestienne had the Malaga players appealing when he hit the deck in the area but replays showed that despite contact from Antonio Barragán, the Belgian had made the most of it.
Eventually, though, this early Malaga pressure paid dividends. Isaac Success sent Youssef En-Nesyri through on goal and the young Moroccan held off Jordi Amat before smashing the ball into the top corner – his fourth of the season.
Real Betis were not behind for long. The host found a way back in the game just four minutes after conceding when Roberto Rosales gifted the ball to Riza Durmisi inside the box and the Dane completed the simplest of tasks, sliding it past Roberto.
Despite the blow, the visitors continued on the front foot and had the ball in the net when En-Nesyri tucked in Adrián’s low cross from the left from an offside position.
It was a good half for Malaga but with the introduction of Loren to partner Antonio Sanabria up top early in the second half, more space opened up for Betis in midfield as the visitors became preoccupied with the striking threat.
In the 73rd minute, Fabian was able to make use of having the freedom of the park to turn onto his favoured left foot and curl the ball into the far bottom corner past a helpless Roberto in goal.
With this goal, the game ended as a contest. Malaga substitute Alberto Bueno had the only real chance during what was left of the game. The forward stretched to meet Ignasi Miquel’s knock down but his effort was easily saved by the keeper.
While Betis celebrated their achievement, Malaga rued missing out on a chance to leapfrog Las Palmas into 19th place.