Vital win for Real Betis
Last Updated: 22/09/12 10:37pm
Junior Paulao: Scored the only goal
Real Betis responded to the pressure placed on them by club president Miguel Guillen with a narrow 1-0 win over 10-man Espanyol
Guillen turned up the heat on coach Pepe Mel this week by declaring Betis should look to improve on last season's 13th-placed finish.
Mel brought in eight new players over the summer and Guillen felt that, after two wins from their first three games, they should be aiming for the top half.
And that looks a distinct possibility after Junior Paulao's goal was enough to make it three wins from four games against lowly Espanyol.
There were precious few chances before Betis made the decisive breakthrough in the 19th minute.
Espanyol's Joan Capdevila was penalised for a foul and Etxebarria Benat's free-kick was headed home from 12 yards by defender Paulao.
And it could have been 2-0 minutes later when Alejandro Pozuelo's shot brought a good save from Cristian Alvarez.
Espanyol centre-half Raul Rodriguez had called for patience from his side's fans this week as the players look to turn around their disappointing start to the season.
But those players will have to offer a lot more to earn that patience than the insipid showing they managed in the first half tonight.
Their cause was not helped by ill discipline, with midfielder Mubarak Wakaso booked for dissent just before half-time and then sent off midway through the second for a second bookable offence after a foul on Jose Nono.
At least his manager might have some sympathy, with boss Mauricio Pochettino and his assistant Toni Jimenez watching from the stands after being sent off during their side's last game - a 3-3 home draw with Athletic Bilbao that brought a first point of the season.
Betis were largely happy to sit back and make the most of their one-goal lead and numerical advantage, but Espanyol briefly threatened in the 68th minute as Cristian Gomez drilled in a shot from 12 yards which was saved by Espinosa Casto.
However, there was little sign of an unlikely equaliser and the home side comfortably closed out the game to claim all three points.
Spanish Primera BBVA