Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 26th 2017 Contents Sunday, February 26, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Sevilla rises to top of La Liga with comeback at Betis
BARCELONA, Spain — His
team trailing against its fiercest
rival, coach Jorge Sampaoli or-
chestrated a 2-1 comeback at Real
Betis that lifted Sevilla to the top
of the Spanish league yesterday.
Sampaoli’s two halftime substi-
tutions sparked the turnaround in
Spain’s most heated city derby.
Substitute Vicente Iborra got the
winning goal in the 75th minute to
silence the Benito Villamarin Sta-
dium following Gabriel Mercado’s
“Vicente contributed immediately
and had a lot to do with the transfor-
mation of the team,” Sampaoli said.
“He was one of the architects who
helped the team turn this around.”
Betis dominated the first half and
took the lead on a free kick by Riza
Durmisi in the 36th which slipped
through the defensive barrier.
But Sampaoli’s decisions during
the break to replace Franco Vazquez
with Iborra and an ineffective Pab-
lo Sarabia with Wissam Ben Yedder
completely swung the match to the
“The first half didn’t reflect who
we are as a team,” Iborra said. “No-
body believed in us at halftime,
but we did what we needed to. We
changed everything. The first half
was theirs, but the second half was
ours from start to finish, and reflects
what we are doing this season.”
The win in the Seville derby,
which came three days after Sevilla
beat Leicester 2-1 in the Champions
League, pulled it level on points with
Liga leader Real Madrid. Madrid
plays at Villarreal on Sunday, and
has a game in hand at Celta Vigo.
Both goals came on free kicks per-
fectly executed by Sevilla, and poorly
defended by Betis.
Mercado equalized in the 57th by
finishing off a save made by goal-
keeper Antonio Adan of Adil Rami’s
point-blank header. Adan had been
left to fend for himself when Betis’
players failed to pull an offside trap
on a free kick.
Iborra completed the comeback
on another set-piece when Steven
Nzoni headed on a free kick for Iborra
to toe past Adan, who again got no
help from his defenders.
“Their goals were too easy. That’s
unacceptable, especially against our
greatest rival,” Betis midfielder Dani
Ceballos said. “In the first half our
attitude was impeccable, but in the
second half we got scared and with-
drew into our area. This is a painful
Leicester in relegation zone
after results go against champs
LONDON — Hours after
fired coach Claudio Ranieri
bid farewell to the Leicester
players, the calamitous cham-
pions slipped into the English
Premier League’s relegation
It was Crystal Palace’s 1-0
victory over Middlesbrough
yesterday that ensured Leicester
will take to the field at the King
Power Stadium tomorrow against
Liverpool in the bottom three.
Leicester is two points above
last-placed Sunderland, which
lost at Everton 2-0, and ahead
of Hull only on goal difference.
The reality of Leicester’s dire
situation is stark for players who
so incredibly won the league
less than 10 months ago and are
scrambling to convince fans they
didn’t force out Ranieri.
“We are players and we can
only affect (things) on the pitch;
what happens above our heads at
boardroom level is completely
out of our control,” goalkeeper
Kasper Schmeichel told the BBC
after Ranieri’s training-ground
send-off on Saturday. “He came
in and said his piece to the players,
thanked us for our efforts and for
last season, and said goodbye.
“It’s a shame it’s come to this.
You could hear that it hurt him
and it hurts the players that we
haven’t performed well enough
to make this carry on.”
The trophy is, however, set
to be collected by an Italian for
a second season running, with
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea 11 points
clear at the top.
Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing, left, and Crystal Palace’s Christian
Benteke battle for the ball during the Premier League soccer match
between Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park, London,
England, yesterday. AP PHOTO
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2017 file photo, Sevilla’s players celebrate . AP PHOTO
LEGANES 4, DEPORTIVO LA CO-
ALAVES 2, VALENCIA 1
CHELSEA 3, SWANSEA, 1
Cesc Fabregas reached 300 Pre-
mier League appearances with only
his sixth start of the season, and he
made the most of it. After dislodging
Nemanja Matic from the lineup, the
midfielder put Chelsea in front in the
19th minute with a deflected shot.
Pedro Rodriguez was the provider
and Fabregas returned the favour af-
ter Fernando Llorente leveled with a
header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free
kick on the stroke of halftime.
Fabregas slotted the ball through
for Pedro to curl into the net through
goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski’s hands
in the 72nd.
Any prospect of a second equalizer
for Swansea ended after Diego Costa
volleyed in his 16th goal of the league
campaign from Eden Hazard’s cut-
back in the 84th.
It was a miserable return to west
London for Swansea manager Paul
Clement, who was an assistant coach
under Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea
won the title in 2010. The south Wales
club is three points above the rele-
EVERTON 2, SUNDERLAND 0
Sunderland manager David Moyes’
dismal record of failing to take any
points off former teams Everton and
Manchester United continued. Idris-
sa Gana Gueye scored his first league
goal and Romelu Lukaku equaled
Duncan Ferguson’s Everton-record
of 60 league goals, leaving Sunder-
land three points from safety.
WEST BROM 2,
West Bromwich Albion kept up its
pursuit of European qualification and
sent Bournemouth sliding toward the
Josh King’s penalty for Bourne-
mouth was wiped out as defenders
Craig Dawson and Gareth McAuley
gave the hosts a seventh win in eight
While West Brom is eighth, four
points behind Europa League-chas-
ing Everton, Bournemouth is five
points above the drop zone.
CRYSTAL PALACE 1,
A first-half goal from Patrick van
Aanholt gave Palace its first home win
since Sam Allardyce took charge in
December, taking the south London
club out of the relegation zone.
WATFORD 1, WEST HAM 1
Andre Ayew’s second-half goal
cancelled out Watford captain Troy
Deeney’s third-minute penalty.
West Ham finished the game with
10 men after Michail Antonio was sent
off in the 86th minute after handling
and receiving a second booking.
HULL 1, BURNLEY 1
Michael Keane redeemed himself
after handling to concede a penalty
that Tom Huddlestone converted in
the 72nd minute.
The defender produced the equal-
izer inside four minutes. (AP)
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