From the cover of Seville sports daily Estadio Deportivo: "Against 12...impossible." From Yahoo! Sport: "Madrid handed win at Betis." From the Correo de Andalucía: "What they mean by 'lending a hand'." From my friend Richard, watching on his computer in Los Angeles: "You guys were robbed on that handball! Sucks!" From ex-Madridista Guti, via Twitter: "Fantastic game from Madrid and Betis and great stop by Sergio Ramos in the last minute; my friend is useful as a defender and as a goalkeeper." And from Marca's expert: "It's not a penalty; the ball hit Ramos's thigh." Hmmm. Shall we just leave the matter there?
l Maybe not quite yet. I've just seen highlights of the game on local TV and they pointed out that 1) there was a probably foul by Xabi Alonso on Jorge Molina in the build-up to Madrid's first goal, 2) Kaká should have had a second yellow card halfway through the second half, and 3) the fourth official, who had to step in to referee the second 45 minutes after the original ref pulled a muscle, is actually Segunda B standard. The Liga BBVA doesn't want to pay for top-flight fourth officials, apparently. Amazing but true.
l You're a hard-hearted so-and-so indeed if you weren't delighted to see Jefferson Montero score his first goal for Betis. He had a very decent all-round game (and is once again winning Betisweb's Man of the Match award by a landslide) and his delight at finally getting off the mark was totally infectious. That he headed off to celebrate with Roque Santa Cruz in a little South American hugfest only added to the moment's charm. Of course, the problem is that the better Jeff plays for us, the less likely he is to be around next season. He's still a Villareal player officially and every week he's moving further and further out of the Betis price bracket.
l Twitter round-up time. Nelson: "Happy and proud to belong to this great club, with Champions League fans. You're great. Mucho Betis." Molina: "Spectacular yesterday, still have goose bumps. Shame about the result." Salva: "Incredible what we experienced yesterday, you're great. Thanks to everyone." Pepe Mel: "One of 365 days in which it's a source of pride to be a Bético, what fans!!! What a group of players!!! Thanks to everyone, now work, work." Team psychologist Patricia Ramírez: "Words aren't enough to appreciate the support of our fans. The players left their hearts out there."
l If you're in the mood for tactical discussion, it's worth pointing out that Betis played a little differently than they usually do with that team, sticking Salva Sevilla out on the opposite wing to Jefferson in a fairly conventional 4-4-2 formation (instead of 4-2-1-3, with Salva in "the hole"). It worked pretty well, too, with Nelson clearly under orders to stay back and look after Ronaldo (which he did quite expertly, I thought).
l While we're giving out medals, let's mention two other defenders in dispatches: Nacho and Paulao. The left-back helped make the first goal with a nice run and lovely pass, and it was his trickery that had Xabi Alonso fooled into handling (sorry, "handling") in the second half, while the Brazilian central defender once again oozed calm authority. One ridiculously chilled piece of work late on earned him a stadium-wide round of applause.
l In the end, the difference between the two teams might have been something as straightforward as self-belief. It was noticeable that when Madrid launched a counter-attack, they did so ruthlessly, going straight for the jugular, whereas Betis players in the same situation always seemed to be looking for someone else to pass to. At times it was as if the midfielders had been told they weren't supposed to shoot. I think I'm right in saying that neither Beñat, Salva nor Iriney have scored a goal from open play all season, and that obviously has to change if Betis are going to become a regular top-six team.
l Despite everything, I think we have to admit that Sergio Ramos is a very good defender and Iker Casillas is very good goalkeeper. You know how, when you watch Rafa Nadal play tennis, you sometimes wonder if there's anything his opponent can do to get the ball past him? Well, at times it felt a bit like that last night. I'm certainly looking forward to rooting for Spain in the European Championships this summer.
l If you've been watching videos from the pre-match build-up, you'll probably have noticed that despite news on Saturday morning that only 300 tickets remained unsold, there were way more than 300 empty seats. It gets odder, too. Some friends of mine queued for a couple of hours on Thursday for €35 tickets, only to be told they'd sold out, while a group of readers from Scotland picked up six together at €35 without a bother on Saturday morning. The best guess is that several hundred were returned unsold from Madrid, but the whole thing still remains a bit of a mystery. Most Real Madrid fans seemed to have bought tickets in Seville and were seated in among the Béticos, especially in the lower tier of Preferencia (the main stand), but they're so subdued unless Madrid have scored in the previous 30 seconds that it didn't seem to create many problems. In the end, the official attendance was 51,566 - easily the biggest crowd of the season, but about 3,500 short of what had been predicted.
l The a capella Himno del Betis before the game was so spine-tingling that TV channel La Sexta later showed it again with (pretty rubbish) subtitles. The full words, with English translation, can be found here, but this is what it sounded like last night.
And I think that's finally enough of that..