A late Joaquin penalty saw Betis end Fulham’s unbeaten pre-season run in Huelva this evening.
The La Liga side went in front through a terrific piece of opportunism from Cristiano Piccini as the Italian full-back lobbed David Button from the half way line midway through the first half. Cauley Woodrow replied with a magnificent finish of his own before Scott Malone’s rash challenge allowed Joaquin to lash home the winner from the spot with two minutes to play.
Betis made the brighter start and squandered a couple of decent chances to go in front. Ruben Castro had the ball whipped off his toes by a terrific Tomas Kalas tackle just as he was about to pull the trigger and Piccini fired disappointing wide when well placed on the right side of the penalty area. Dani watched his deflected strike whistle just over the bar, whilst Fulham’s best chance full to Denis Odoi who ruffled the side netting with a header after excellent approach work from Floyd Ayite.
The opening goal when it came was a stunner from Piccini. There appeared to be little danger when the defender received the ball just inside in his own half on the right flank but the Italian under-21 international spotted Button well off his line and landed the perfect lob from fully 45 yards out. It was an incredible strike – and Fulham took a while to recover from the shock of going behind.
Ayite came the closest to delivering a riposte as Dani Gimenez clawed away his powerful drive from just outside the box, but a well worked move down the left saw Slavisa Jokanovic’s men draw level before the interval. The impressive Ryan Sessegnon floated a ball up to Woodrow, who turned his marker and fired a fantastic effort into the top corner.
Fulham were on the front foot from the start of the second half and a clever counter-attack saw Ayite find space twenty yards from goal but the Togolese international’s strike lacked real conviction and Giminez made a straightforward save. Michael Madl’s diving header from a Tom Cairney free-kick flew wide of goal before the tourists had a lucky escape when Bruno rattled the crossbar with a free header form a corner.
Betis ended Fulham’s flawless pre-season run with two minutes to go when Malone dived in to try and dispossess Fabian Ruiz but badly mistimed his tackle. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and the legendary Joaquin made no mistake from twelve yards – sending Button the wrong way to secure the victory for Los Verdiblancos.
REAL BETIS (4-4-2): Gimenez; Piccini, Martinez, Bruno, Gutierrez; Musonda, Fernandez, Piccini, Cejudo, Mandi (Joaquin 45); Castro, Fabian. Subs (not used): Durmisi, Nahuel, Adan, Narvaez, Hinojosa, Alegria, Petros, Navarro, Pedro, Carlos.
GOALS: Piccini (23), Joaquin (pen 88).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Button; Odoi (Stearman 70), R. Sessegnon (Malone 60), Kalas (Ream 60), Madl; Parker (Edun 60), Tunnicliffe (Adeniran 60); Ayite (Christensen 70), Aluko (de la Torre 70), Cairney; Woodrow (Smith 70). Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Joronen, G. Williams.
GOAL: Woodrow (37).