I have to admit that when I wrote a few hours ago that I expected tonight's game to be "little more than an exhibition", I didn't expect that it would be the team in green and white giving the damn thing. But so it proved. On a wonderfully exciting night, which felt like a big verdiblanco party from well before kick-off, Jorge Molina scored a sharp goal from a Salva Sevilla free-kick after 90 seconds, then raced on to an Ezequiel pass to put Betis two-up after seven minutes and could well have had a hat-trick before a quarter of an hour had passed, if a Gerard Piqué tackle hadn't arrived in the nick of time. Eventually Barcelona were grateful for a valuable away goal - I can hardly believe I'm typing this - from Leo Messi, especially as Arzu scored again for Betis shortly before the break.
Nor was the 3-1 scoreline unfairly flattering. In the first half at least, Real Betis of the Segunda division plain looked a better team than the runaway leaders of the Primera (who rested Villa and Iniesta, but still put out a team of internationals). They posed more of a threat upfront, they worked harder in midfield and they defended quite brilliantly. The Estadio Benito Villamarín could hardly believe what it was seeing.
The more evenly balanced second-half was slighty boring by comparison, but we still had the fun of seeing The Best Player In The World miss a penalty, and an exhilarating Betis move which ended with Nacho smacking a shot against the wordwork. All the while, upwards of 35,000 Béticos sung and clapped and bounced and generally celebrated the fact that, after five years of decline, their club is one the way back - in every possible respect.
It's 1.30am here now, so let's leave it at that for now. I hope you had fun watching, wherever you were.
Betis: Casto; Isidoro, Roversio, Belenguer, Nacho; Iriney (Cañas, min. 61), Arzu, Salva Sevilla; Ezequiel (Fernandoo Vega, min. 64), Jonathan Pereira and Jorge Molina (Israel, min. 77).
Goals: 1-0: Jorge Molina, min. 1. 2-0: Jorge Molina, min. 8. 2-1: Messi, min. 37. 3-1: Arzu, min. 45.