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Rijeka draw the sting from Betis

Real Betis Balompié 0-0 HNK Rijeka
Already sure of a place in the round of 16, Betis had a subdued end to their Group I campaign, with their visitors creating the better chances in Seville.

Chuli after missing a chance in Betis's 0-0 draw against Rijeka
Chuli after missing a chance in Betis's 0-0 draw against Rijeka ©AFP

Needing a win to have any chance of finishing top of UEFA Europa League Group I, Real Betis Balompié ended up having problems at both ends as they were held by a spirited HNK Rijeka.

In control for much of the game, Betis could not find a cutting edge – exemplified by glaring misses from Salvador Sevilla and Chuli. Though Olympique Lyonnais' win at Vitória SC rendered the result immaterial, only wastefulness from the visitors' Leo Benko and Ivan Krstanović prevented Betis' from suffering a first European home defeat of the campaign.

Already safely through to the round of 32, Los Verdiblancos had the crowd on their feet on 19 minutes, when Juan Carlos's intercepted pass was cleared into the path of Sevilla some eight yards out – the midfielder losing his balance before mis-kicking wide. However, Betis looked vulnerable at the back, Rijeka's Goran Mujanović's sending in a perfect centre from the right, only for Benko to head wide with only keeper Guillermo Sara to beat.

Chances for Juan Carlos and Juanfran came and went in quick succession before the home side received another huge let-off. Timing his run perfectly, Benko strode beyond Betis centre-backs Antonio Amaya and Jordi before picking out unmarked Ivan Krstanović on the penalty spot, but the rangy striker could not control and the chance went begging.

That pattern continued after the break, Betis piling on the pressure only to be carved open by the Croatian outfit on the break. Shortly after a weak pass from Mate Maleš ended a three-on-one counterattack for Rijeka, Los Béticos' offside trap was sprung again by Krstanović, who drilled his shot harmlessly past the post.

There was still time, however, for two more mad moments in a manic encounter – Chuli missing a glorious chance after robbing Rijeka captain Dario Knežević, while Sara nearly spilled Benko's tame long-ranger into his own net with ten minutes remaining.

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