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Levante’s Morales scores unbelievable solo goal

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The La Liga season is under way today, and already the Spanish top flight has a strong candidate for goal of the season.

Levante is hoping to follow up last season’s disappointing 15th place finish with a more respectable spot in the table, and they’re off to a great start with a 2-0 win over Real Betis thanks in part to the unbelievable work by 31-year-old winger Jose Luis Morales.

The Spaniard took the ball in his own half on the right wing and rocketed forward at blistering pace, rounding all four defenders he faced as he sped towards the net. First, he whipped around William Carvalho who was utterly baffled and spun around helplessly just past the mid-line. Then he expertly touched the ball perfectly to avoid a tackle from behind by former Barcelona defender Marc Bartra. The brilliant touch also wrong-footed young Francis Guerrero who Morales jolted past, and finally Sergio Canales came sliding in with a last-ditch effort, but Morales cut back, leaving the former Real Madrid midfielder on the seat of his pants.

With just the goalkeeper to beat now, Morales hit a wonderful finish, somehow using the outside of his right foot to touch into the bottom-left corner, leaving a bemused Pau Lopez to figure out what the heck just happened. All of this took place with Morales moving at lightning speed, and fans were left dazzled by the incredible sight.

On the replay, it showed Morales may have been slightly fortunate as Bartra’s tackle appeared to have been somewhat successful in getting a touch on the ball, but it instead aided Morales’s run past the final two defenders. Either way, it’s unbelievable work from the Levante winger.

The goal put Levante 2-0 up in the 54th minute, and the scoreline would remain that way until Morales grabbed a second for a 3-0 final, giving Levante the first victory of the entire La Liga season.

Japan’s Inui gets embassy introduction from Betis

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TOKYO (AP) Japan midfielder Takashi Inui was introduced by La Liga team Real Betis at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday after impressing at the World Cup.

The 30-year-old Inui, who played for Spanish club Eibar for three seasons, said he has a three-year contract with Betis.

“Betis’ football last season was very attractive for me,” Inui said. “I had a strong feeling that I wanted to be a part of the team.”

Inui scored two goals for Japan at the World Cup in Russia, and played a major role in helping his team reach the last 16.

Inui scored in Japan’s 2-2 draw with Senegal in the group stage of the World Cup. He got a second goal in his team’s 3-2 loss against Belgium in the knockout stage.

Real Betis says Inui will keep the No. 14 shirt he wore for the Japanese national team.

Late winner moves Betis into 6th in Spanish league

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MADRID (AP) Sergio Leon scored an 89th-minute winner as Real Betis defeated Getafe 1-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, moving into the qualification zone for the Europa League.

Betis jumped from eighth to sixth in the standings with its third straight victory. It is one point behind fifth-place Villarreal.

The teams in fifth, sixth, and seventh places qualify for the Europa League.

Getafe, which dropped to 11th, missed a 65th-minute penalty kick when goalkeeper Antonio Adan stopped Francisco Portillo’s shot from the spot.

Getafe also came close when defender Vitorino Antunes struck the post with a free kick in the 73rd, and the hosts were denied an injury-time goal when the officiating crew ruled that a ball headed into the far corner did not fully cross the goal line. Getafe also had a first-half goal disallowed for offside.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Real Betis boosts European hopes with 2-0 win at Levante

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VALENCIA, Spain (AP) Real Betis boosted its European qualification hopes in defeating struggling Levante 2-0 to move to seventh in the Spanish league on Monday.

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Betis jumped three places from 10th and is just three points behind city rival Sevilla, beaten at home by Atletico Madrid 5-2 on Sunday.

Sergio Leon sealed Betis’ 11th win, already more in 25 games than the side managed all last season.

Levante, which remains just a point above the relegation zone, started well and Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adan did well to deny Armando Sadiku and Jose Luis Morales from the follow up.

Teammate Roger Marti came agonizingly close to making the breakthrough before the half-hour mark.

But Betis improved and went ahead 10 minutes after the break when Chema Rodriguez headed the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear.

Leon claimed the winner with just over 20 minutes remaining. The home fans, resigned to their 11th defeat, started leaving around 10 minutes later.

23 arrested after fighting between Sevilla and Betis fans

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MADRID (AP) Spanish authorities say that 23 people have been arrested for participating in a fight between fans of Sevilla and Real Betis hours before the teams play each other in a league match.

The emergency services for Sevilla said via Twitter on Saturday that police intervened to make the arrests of “at least 23 people.”

They add that the rival fan groups had arranged the meeting in order to fight.

The derby between Seville’s two teams is considered the most hotly disputed rivalry in Spain.