Sevilla beat local rivals Real Betis 2-0 as La Liga returned after three months away on Thursday, becoming the second of Europe’s five major leagues to resume following the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Bundesliga in Germany restarted on May 16, La Liga opened its doors again to players but not supporters at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the usually vibrant Seville derby was played in front of empty stands.
The game was the first in Spain’s top flight since March 10 but 93 days later another professional fixture has been completed without incident, offering further encouragement to the Premier League in England and Serie A in Italy. Both are set to return next week.
Lucas Ocampos gave Sevilla the lead from a 56th-minute penalty and Fernando Reges then added the second goal for the home side, who are third in the table.
This was the first leg of a 39-day sprint to the finish in La Liga, that will see teams playing every three days for five and a half weeks and undergoing stern examinations of their fitness.
Both coaches made use of their new allocation of five substitutes and there was a drinks breaks in each half but the contest lost its fluency late on, in part because Betis never looked like staging a comeback.
Victory strengthens Sevilla’s hold on third place as they move four points above Getafe and Real Sociedad below them. Betis sit 12th and face the possibility of being dragged into a relegation battle.
This was as far from a typical Seville derby as could be imagined, a pale shadow of the division’s most heated fixture and a clear demonstration of what has been sacrificed to keep the season going.
– Virtual supporters –
“I always believed we would play again,” said La Liga president Javier Tebas, who had also indicated on Thursday that “10 or 15 per cent” of fans could attend stadiums before the season finishes on July 19.