By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Sergio Ramos headed in a late winner to keep Real Madrid firmly atop the Liga table above fierce rivals Barcelona.
Captain Ramos has made a habit of scoring vital goals for Zinedine Zidane’s side this season – most notably a last-minute equaliser against Barcelona and a late winner against Deportivo, both in December.
The centre-back’s power from set-pieces proved vital as Real Madrid did not quite click in attack without the suspended Gareth Bale, and with Karim Benzema surprisingly named among the substitute in the game to the dismay of Madridstas.
Alvaro Morata, given a chance from the start, was unable to make an impact and was replaced by Benzema with 20 minutes left.
Ronaldo provided his usual threat, heading a fine equaliser and seeing another goal ruled out for offside.
But it was Ramos who led by example, as Zidane’s side took advantage of Barcelona’s surprise 2-1 defeat at Deportivo earlier on Sunday to regain top spot.
Real Betis were beaten 6-1 at home by Real Madrid in October, not long before head coach Gus Poyet was sacked.
This was a much-improved display under the guidance of Victor Sanchez, and they looked for a long time as if they would leave with at least a point.
They did not create many chances – although the lively Ruben Castro did fire a good one well over in the second half.
As the game wore on, their defence became increasingly stretched. Centre-back German Pezzella made a superb goal-saving challenge to deny Ronaldo on the edge of the area when any mistiming would have meant a red card.