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Real Madrid At Betis, La Liga 2012 Match Recap: 'Thrillah' in Sevilla

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Real Madrid managed to get a 2-3 win in a great atmosphere at Betis's stadium, the Benito Villamarín. It seems like the only game Real Madrid won easily in their red uniform was at Sánchez Pizjuán against Sevilla.

This match was similar to games against Valencia and Rayo Vallecano. Both Betis and Real Madrid could have garnered the three points; however, even though Cristiano Ronaldo didn't perform well, he scored two goals to secure the win for his team.

Real Madrid started off well until Betis scored its first goal in the 10th minute. It looked as if Jorge Molina touched the ball with his elbow before he faced Casillas, but Referee Iturralde González let the play develop, and the goal fired up the Betis crowd. Arbeloa could have stopped the play by fouling Diego Castro, but he would have seen a yellow card. The Spanish right back was atrocious anyway, as was Marcelo. Both Alonso and Khedira played badly as well, and gave Betis many chances to score--Betis played very comfortably through Madrid's defense and midfield.

Gonzalo Higuaín received a great first-touch pass from Mesut Özil in the 25th minute and ran to convert Real Madrid's first goal. The Argentinian player has now scored in two consecutive games, but with Karim Benzema healthy again, he will likely return to the bench.

By tying the game up so early, Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance to move his team ahead on the scoreboard before the end of the first half, but he missed a very clear chance off a great pass by Marcelo. Iturralde González concluded the first half without any added minutes because he injured himself a couple of minutes earlier. The young referee on the sideline joined the game for the second half, leaving Iturralde out of the pitch.

In the 52nd minute, Cristiano Ronaldo scored Madrid's second goal after Marcelo touched the ball with his chest inside the box. Real Madrid was ahead for the first time, but Betis was not going to give up--they tied the game three minutes later off a big mistake by Álvaro Arbeloa. After Betis tied up the game at 2-2, Casillas stopped two Betis shots. If Betis had scored, Real Madrid would have given up on the game, but the Spanish goalkeeper kept his team in the game.

It was key for the team to get the three points, so that Karim Benzema, Esteban Granero and Callejón could play. Benzema was already set to enter the game when Cristiano Ronaldo scored Real Madrid's third and last goal. Betis's goalkeeper had stopped Sergio Ramos's header in that play, but Ronaldo was able to complete a powerful shot that placed the ball inside the net.

Mourinho changed his mind just after this goal, so Granero entered the field for Kaka. The Brazilian player yet again played a poor match. As with the Espanyol's game, the team needed Kaka to step up his game. Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Higuaín was playing great, but Kaka only had 10 good minutes, just before Betis scored their first goal.

Granero helped the team defensively, and Real Madrid was also able to keep hold onto possession. Mourinho then changed Higuaín for José Callejón. Cristiano Ronaldo moved to the striker position, so Callejón helped Marcelo lock down Betis right wingers.

The minutes passed by, and Mourinho decided to play Karim Benzema in additional time. He removed Mesut Özil from the field, and Benzema held the possession almost by himself for a minute and a half. Nonetheless, Betis had a final chance to tie the game up off a corner-kick. The ball touched Marcelo's hip and then went to Sergio Ramos's hand/calf. It is not clear even in the replay whether the Spanish defender touched the ball with his hand or not, so the referee was probably right when he decided not to call that play a penalty-kick.

With these three points already in hand, Real Madrid now needs to beat CSKA Moscow in their Champions League game next Wednesday. After that, Manuel Pellegrini's Málaga will visit the Santiago Bernabéu. The schedule is going to get tougher, so it would be good if Mourinho could recover Ángel Di María and Coentrao. The team is doing great in la Liga, but Real Madrid needs to get to April with the same 10-point difference.

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