There may not be many more Seville derbies for Joaquín Sánchez, but even at 37 he managed to settle the latest one
At the end of the final training session before the Seville derby, coach and captain sat on the bench together at the Benito Villamarín, surrounded by empty green seats. The following night 53,451 people would fill Real Betis’s stadium with noise but for now it was quiet. “So,” Quique Setién asked, “what do you think? How do you feel?” Joaquín Sánchez looked at him and said he didn’t know; still not quite right. He knew better than anyone that this was the game – nobody’s played more of them – but a calf injury meant he was yet to appear this season and he wasn’t convinced. Setién was. What about 15, 20 minutes towards the end, he asked. No need to run back, just find a way through. Ok, Joaquín said. And so it was done.
It was still 0-0, Sevilla had just gone down to 10 men, Roque Mesa sent off with a second yellow card for the terrible crime of being attacked by Pau López, and the clock showed 69.49 when Joaquín set off up the touchline to warm up; 73.56 when he came on to replace William Carvalho; and 79.18 when he got his first touch. Dashing into the area, he headed in Aïssa Mandi’s superb cross from a couple of yards. “Bish, bosh, in,” he grinned: five minutes, one touch, and all lunacy was let loose, the derby won. Racing to the corner, Joaquín tore off his shirt, team-mates piling on. At full-time, victory secured, he leapt into the arms of Setién. “It was a miracle we didn’t kiss,” he said. “We were emotional,” Setién said. “Levitating,” declared Diario de Sevilla.
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Real Betis 1-0 Sevilla, Barcelona 8-2 Huesca, Alavés 2-1 Espanyol, Levante 2-2 Valencia, Real Madrid 4-1 Leganés, Celta Vigo 2-0 Atlético, Eibar 2-1 Real Sociedad, Villarreal 0-1 Girona, Getafe 0-0 Valladolid
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