There was not much more than a minute to go in the Seville derby when the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium impatiently whistled Daniel Carriço. Sevilla's centre-back had passed the ball back when he should have been going forward. The clock was ticking and time was running out: 44min, it said. Over on the touchline, the fourth official appeared and the board went up: two minutes more. "Is that all? Get the bloody thing forward!" Sevilla's fans roared their team on urgently; the noise was deafening. Up the pitch they went, into the area, winning a corner. From the stands they appealed for António Alberto Bastos Pimparel – Beto – to go up for it. Beto is the goalkeeper. They were desperate now.
The ball dropped and for a moment it looked like it might actually happen, the goal they so keenly sought might materialise. The shot, though, went wide. A huge "huuuuuy" went around the stadium. But by the time they reached the "y" it was transforming into something else: as the referee blew the final whistle, it became a cheer. Yes, a cheer. Big grins and bigger embraces. In the main stand they were dancing. Sure, there was disappointment – they had really wanted that goal – but mostly it was tongue-in-cheek. Sure, there had been desperation but there had been something pantomime about it, feigned and funny. Mostly, there was delight. Sevilla had hammered rivals Real Betis Balompié 4-0.
"Betis head to the slaughterhouse again," ran the headline in El Mundo. A slaughterhouse, yes, but at least it was not five. A fifth goal would have made it even more complete: another manita or little hand, a goal for each finger, something that would really, really rub it in. So it goes. It would also have made it just like this time 12 months ago. "Another year (almost) the same," declared Estadio Deportivo. Those brackets were Meat Loafian: they mattered. This was the first time Sevilla had won two consecutive league games for nine months and it was a massive victory, yet afterwards the first question manager Unai Emery was asked was: "Congratulations … but was there a lack of hunger to score the fifth?"
Sevilla's fans had started chanting, "we want another manita!" after the third goal, scored in the 49th minute, but few had really thought it was actually going to happen until Vicente Iborra scored the fourth on 88 minutes. Then came the bugle call, a kind of smiling sadism. That desire to make this more complete; as if it could really be any more complete.
For the eighth successive derby, a player had been sent off. For the fourth successive derby, Sevilla had scored inside 10 minutes. And for the third successive derby, they had scored three or more: the first time that had happened for 70 years. This time they scored four: four goals scored by four different men – Carlos Bacca, Stephane Mbia, Víctor Machín Pérez (Vitolo, as he is known) and Iborra – all of whom were playing in their first ever Seville derby. And there was more: the return (again) of the wayward idol, Sevilla suddenly within a point of a European place and Betis bottom of the table, their manager deeper and deeper in trouble.
In the last three derbies, Sevilla have now scored 12. "Are they really so much better than you?" the Betis coach Pepe Mel was asked. "It appears so," he replied. "I don't know if my players are good or if my players are bad, all I know is that they are my players and I have to pick them up."
"I feel pissed off and all I can do is say sorry to the fans," admitted the Betis defender Antonio Amaya. The journalist Antonio Felix wrote: "The night turned purple as if bathed in Betis's blood, which once again ran in torrents through Nervión, the blood of a victim trapped in the same worst nightmare."
It had all started within two minutes. Actually, scrap that: it had all started four hours earlier. It smelled of derby on Calle de Luis Montoto; it smelled of fireworks, the air turned red as blue police lights peered through the smoke and loud sirens pierced the songs. Or tried to. Outside the Meliá Lebreros hotel, the Sevilla team bus stood and a crowd had been gathering since late afternoon. As kick-off approached it grew and grew. By the time the bus set off, not long after 7pm, it was packed. The hotel stands barely 100 yards from the stadium but this would be some journey. The bus crawled through the crowd, edging its way up the street, wrapped in smoke and escorted to the Pizjuán by fans singing and chanting. As it turned the corner, the crowd sprinted to meet it on the other side, singing the club's anthem as the players headed in.
"I'd never seen anything like it," Bacca said. The effect was immediate. "The fans pushed the first goal in," Emery said. He later tweeted a photo of the team bus with the remark: "We scored the first goal all of us together". The ball was clipped cleverly over the defence and the Colombian held off his marker to score. The game had barely begun. "2' Bacca", read the scoreboard.
The man who had provided the goal was José Antonio Reyes, back for his annual demolition of Betis. The man who scored against them after 13 seconds last year, leading Sevilla to a 5-1 victory having been returned to the starting line-up for the first time in three months, had done it again. So far this season, he had not started once and had played just 11 minutes in the league. "I thought about the emotional significance of the game: what you saw on the first goal, that talent, is innate in him" admitted Emery, hinting at what everyone else was thinking: Reyes is the best ... when he can be bothered.
Here, he could be bothered. For the boy who was handed a Betis shirt for his 13th birthday but was brought up at Sevilla, the derby matters. He tore into Betis. One paper called it "an exhibition". "It's not enough to do this once," said the president José María Del Nido. AS's headline declares: "Kings of the derby." In Spanish, Kings is Reyes. As José María López put it: "Reyes is an artist, a torero, the kind of person who doesn't care for any old bullfight but put a Miura, the best of bulls, in front of him and …" The knife had been plunged between Betis's shoulder blades; all it lacked was a that final fifth goal flourish.
But if some claimed Reyes was pivotal, others pointed to Betis's Brazilian defender Paulão. Not least Paulão himself. A minute before half-time, he brought down Reyes 10 yards outside the area. It was a clear yellow card – his second of the game. "Childish," Mel called it. Paulão stood on the sideline, leaning against the barriers heading down to the dressing room, a forlorn look on his face, the hint of tears, as from the free- kick, Sevilla made it 2-0. "The second goal killed us," Mel insisted. "He knows he has made a mistake." After the game, Paulão said: "The defeat is my fault because of the sending off. I alone am responsible and I want to say sorry to my team-mates. All I can do is apologise to the fans."
It is some of them who should apologise to him. Earlier in the game, when Mbia went down in the corner, some of the 1,500 Betis fans high in the stands started doing monkey chants. The noise was clear. As Paulão walked away after being sent off, television pictures showed that some of them did so now too, subjecting their own player to monkey chants (in the stadium it was not clear and it is impossible to tell how many: it is also not clear whether some Sevilla fans joined in). From the free-kick, Mbia headed in the second, the idiocy, vacuity, ignorance and hatred of those "fans" laid painfully, pathetically bare. And so they monkey-chanted some more; this time aimed, again, at Mbia.
Because the TV footage is clear and at least some of those abusing him are so easy to identify, action could be taken, but don't hold your breath. In this morning's media, only Isabel Morales in Estadio Deportivo even mentions it.
If that was the worst, the best was yet to come. This time Bacca provided a gorgeous assist and Vitolo went round Guillermo Sara to score. Betis were in trouble, Sevilla dominant. A moment later Iborra hit the post and Vitolo smashed it wide. The Sánchez Pizjuán was bouncing, loud and laughing. "Que bote Pep Mel!" they chanted. "Let Pepe Mel jump." Betis, they chanted, were heading to the Second Division. The Marseillaise boomed out. Reyes was withdrawn to a huge ovation, arms waved in worship. Bacca and Vitolo followed him. "We want another manita," they sang. And in the last minute they screamed at Beto to go up for the corner.
The shot went wide and the final whistle blew: they'd have to settle for four. Sevilla's players embraced. Forming a circle, they danced round and round and round. They celebrated with the supporters and the Sevilla hymn, surely the best in Spanish football, rang out just as it had almost four hours before, as the team bus edged its way up Calle Luis Montoto, flanked by fans and fireworks. The contrast was cruel. When the Betis bus departed the stadium, it was quarter to midnight. A handful of supporters applauded, but there were few there. The bus departed quietly, pulling onto Calle Eduardo Dato and into the night, almost unnoticed. On board, players sat in silence, gazing down.
Alongside the Betis fans, a few Sevilla supporters had gathered. Grinning, they held up four fingers.
• Anything you can do, I can do better … and anything you two can do, I can do better than both of you. At 4pm, Barcelona beat Granada 4-0. At 8pm, Real Madrid beat Almería 5-0. And at 10pm, Atlético Madrid beat Getafe 7-0. Yes, seven-nil. Raúl García and David Villa both scored twice, while Diego Costa came on as a substitute after the injury that prevented him from making a Spain debut and scored a quite ridiculously brilliant overhead kick. This was the week of the Fifa virus. The big team would be struggling, they said. They would be vulnerable. They might even get beaten. The final score of the top three versus their opponents was 16-0. It's a still a two team league, Diego Simeone insisted.
• Had it not been for Costa, Ikechukwu Uche might have claimed this week's best goal with an overhead kick of his own as Villarreal beat Levante 3-0 away. They have had the best ever start from a newly-promoted team, with 27 points from their opening 14 games and they're the one side (partly depending on what Athletic do tonight) that can more or less stay in touch with the top three – they're seven points behind Real Madrid in third. A 20 point gap has already opened up between Barcelona in first place and the last of the European positions, occupied by Real Sociedad.
• Speaking of which … woof! Carlos Vela became the first Mexican to ever score four goals in a Spanish league game this weekend. Real Sociedad beat Celta 4-3 in a brilliant match at Anoeta, having been 1-0 up but 3-1 down, and the former Arsenal player got them all. He was given the match ball after the game, signed by his team-mates. "I'll give it to the dog so he can play with it," Vela said, instantly becoming this column's hero.
• Four more. Rayo Vallecano conceded five against Málaga, five against Atlético, four against Sevilla, four against Barcelona, and now four against Espanyol. They've let in 34 goals in 14 games so far this season.
• Thirty-nine goals this weekend ... with one more game to come.
Results: Valladolid 0-1 Osasuna, Barcelona 4-0 Granada, Real Sociedad 4-3 Celta, Almería 0-5 Real Madrid, Atlético 7 (seven!)-0 Getafe, Levante 0-3 Villarreal, Rayo 1-4 Espanyol, Elche 2-1 Valencia, Sevilla 4-0 Betis
Tonight: Well, it's Monday so it must be Athletic … they're at Málaga.