A 69th-minute Ricardo Oliveira goal settled an open and entertaining Group G game as Real Betis Balompié beat RSC Anderlecht 1-0 at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium. The Seville club's first-ever UEFA Champions League win condemned Anderlecht to their ninth straight group stage defeat.
Oliveira scored against the run of play with an accomplished low finish. Joaquín Sánchez burst into life and his pass found the Brazilian, a threat all evening, who slipped the ball just inside the post from the edge of the Anderlecht area.
Betis, beaten 4-1 at home by FC Barcelona in the Primera División on Saturday, had brought Xisco Muňoz into their midfield at the expense of Brazilian Marcos Assunção and Melli came in for Fernando. Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren, meanwhile, made three changes to the side held 0-0 at K. Lierse SK on Sunday. Anthony Vanden Borre, recovered from a stomach upset, replaced Michał Żewłakow in defence, Pär Zetterberg took both the midfield role of Walter Baseggio and his captain's armband, and with defender Vincent Kompany still sidelined by back trouble, Nenad Ještrović returned at centre-forward.
Ještrović goes close
The game got off to a frenetic start as Ještrović rattled the crossbar in the second minute. From an unpromising position on the right of the box, he unleashed an audacious attempt that beat goalkeeper Antonio Doblas but rebounded to safety. Betis went straight down the other end and struck the woodwork themselves. Belgium goalkeeper Silvio Proto dwelt on the ball, allowing Oliveira to get away a shot that bounced off the foot of the post.
Visitors on top
The visitors, with Joaquín operating as a second striker behind Oliveira, played the more fluent football in the first half and nearly went ahead through a Miguel Ángel Lozano header, tipped away by Proto. Miguel Ángel, a threat from every corner, had another thunderous header turned on to the bar. Fernando Varela then smashed an effort towards goal and Proto twice denied Oliveira as the Spanish team continued to open up the home defence.
Proto in demand
The Anderlecht goalkeeper distinguished himself further as half-time approached, reacting sharply as Alberto Rivera's deflected strike threatened to loop over his head, then proving equal to Xisco's rasping left-footed shot before a Joaquín free-kick struck the post. The Belgian club had the first chance after the break. Bart Goor's perfectly weighted through-ball caught the Betis defence square and Doblas had to rush out of his area to deny Mbo Mpenza with his feet. With the rain falling heavily in Brussels, the hosts sensed an opening, and Doblas again did well to repel a fierce Ještrović strike.
Hosts in charge
In contrast to the opening 45 minutes, Anderlecht now controlled proceedings. Goor could have put his side in front before his Belgian international colleague Mpenza, clean through, miscued an attempted chip. Against that, though, Proto emerged unscathed from a collision with a post as Oliveira's curling free-kick arced centimetres past the upright. Chances continued to be created in an engaging contest, Zetterberg floating one just over the bar.
Made to count
However, the one that was made to count went the way of Betis and Oliveira, and Betis nearly doubled their advantage as Fernando, on as a substitute for Xisco, had a shot blocked by Vanden Borre. At the other end, Mpenza blazed over as Anderlecht tried in vain to salvage a point. The wait goes on for the Brussels club, while Betis can start to enjoy life among the European élite.