Sevilla defeated local rivals Real Betis by a score of 2-0 on Thursday in the first La Liga match since Spanish soccer was suspended March 12.
Within six second-half minutes, Lucas Ocampos converted a penalty before assisting Fernando for the second goal with an audacious backheel flick.
The official restart of Spain’s top flight was played to a backdrop of fake crowd noise borrowed from FIFA video games.
Under normal circumstances, the odds would’ve been stacked against Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Los Verdiblancos won just one of their 13 away matches before the 2019-20 campaign was postponed, while their red-clad foes had lost only two of their 13 home fixtures.
Despite there being no fans during an affair known for its noise and color, each team played with an intensity befitting a derby match. For some time, the final result wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
Borja Iglesias, Sergio Reguilon, Carles Alena, and Diego Carlos all performed tough tackles in the opening stanza, punctuating a half in which Sevilla had the edge. Barcelona product Munir El Haddadi was especially dangerous with a series of neat flicks and spins.
Sevilla quickly put the game out of reach after the restart by making use of their eighth and ninth corners.
Ocampos dispatched the first goal from the penalty spot after Marc Bartra was adjudged to have fouled Luuk de Jong while challenging for a header. Betis protested before Ocampos confidently sent Joel Robles the wrong way.
The second goal was a beauty, as Ocampos anticipated a near-post delivery from a corner and deftly flicked the ball with his heel into a crowd of players. Fernando scored with a header.
The introductions of Loren Moron and Joaquin from the bench weren’t enough to turn the tide. Betis are 12th before the rest of La Liga’s clubs participate in the 28th round of fixtures.
Sevilla, meanwhile, plumped up a four-point cushion in La Liga’s Champions League qualification places. Top-four rivals Real Sociedad, Getafe, Atletico Madrid, and Valencia all play over the weekend.