Real Betis team in the 1976 Copa del Rey semi-finals. From left to right, standing: Esnaola, Bizcocho, Biosca, Alabanda, López, Cobo; below: Benítez, Rogelio, Eulate, Cardeñosa and Anzarda.

HISTORY / When Real Betis eliminated Valencia

In 1976, the Green and Whites won the Last 16 round of Copa del Rey against the team from Mestalla; they won 2-0 at home and kept the advantage in the second leg

By Manolo Rodríguez


It is well known that Real Betis have not done well against Valencia in Copa del Rey. They have met seven times and just one them resulted in the Green and Whites getting through.

In those clashes along different eras (and different names such as Copa del Rey Alfonso XIII, Copa del Generalísimo and Copa del Rey), the big burden always came in the games played away, where the team has never won in the cup. The best score was actually a 0-0 in 1971, a season in which Valencia became league champions and Betis finished first in Second Division.


Perhaps for this reason, the only time Betis eliminated Valencia in Copa del Rey should be remembered. It was in 1976 in the Last 16. The team then managed by Ferenc Szusza had beaten Real Valladolid in the previous round and Julio Cardeñosa scored for the first time against his academy club.


The first of the two matches against Valencia took place in Heliópolis on Wednesday the 10th of March of 1976. In Betis, Ladinszky is out, and so are Valencia players Rep and Keita. The three of them could play in LaLiga as foreigners, but it is forbidden that they play in Copa del Rey. Apart from that, Szusza has all the players available. Cardeñosa has a minor injury, but he's expected to be fit for the match.


When the day comes, Betis is in better shape than Valencia in the league. Five points ahead, actually. They already have played the two league games between them and in both the Green and Whites won: 0-1 at Luis Casanova and 2.1 at Heliópolis.


The 'ches' are not in their best moment (Mestre had just replaced Yugoslavian coach Milosevic) and perhaps for that reason Ferenc Szusza says the day before the game that 2-0 would be a good score. And that's exactly the final result. A great step forward for the team.


These were the line-ups:


Real Betis: Esnaola, Lobato, Biosca, Iglesias, Cobo, López, Rogelio (Alabanda 60'), Cardeñosa, Eulate, Mendieta (Benítez, 69'), Anzarda.


Valencia CF: Balaguer, Tirapu, Barrero, Jesús Martínez, Cerveró, Claramunt, Saura, Planelles, Teca, Quino, Ferrer Díaz (González 60').


Real Betis controlled the match entirely. They had chances from the beginning, but the goals came at the final minutes of each half. Both of them scored by Pepe Eulate, a 20-year-old lad who had just made his debut.

Eulate had scored his first goal a couple of months before and that night, without a doubt, he out on his best performance with Betis shirt. He scored two crucial goals and outstood as a reliable striker upfront or on the right wing.


Valencia displayed an excessively defensive and frightened tactic and their performance was disappointing. Quino, a man who had been important in Betis history, did not play well in what actually was his last match at Heliópolis with Valencia, club to which he had been transferred from Real Betis in 1971,


The second leg was played at Luis Casanova (name that Mestalla stadium had between 1969 and 1994) almost a month later, on the 7th of April of 1976.


Betis stay at Hotel Sidi Saler and there Szusza decides to play veteran goalkeeper García Fernández, as Esnaola had problems in his right shoulder. As good news, Paraguayan striker Celso Mendieta returns form an injury.


Spirits are low in Valencia. Perhaps for that reason, Mestalla is only half full. Betis wears their first shirt with black shorts, and the teams formed with these starting elevens:


Valencia CF: Basauri, Tirapu, Cerveró, Jesús Martínez, Cordero, Claramunt, Saura, Ferrer Díaz (González 54'), Sancayetano (Teca 76'), Quino, Valdez.


Real Betis: García Fernández, Cuiñas, Biosca, Sabaté, Cobo, López, Alabanda, Cardeñosa (Blanco 79'), Benítez, Mendieta (Eulate 84'), Anzarda.


Five minutes into the match and Valencia open the score. A screamer from Valdez that goes in by the top corner. Two minutes later, Betis get a goal disallowed. The men managed by Szusza control the game and score in the 19th minute. A good effort from Anzarda that the keeper deflects. Mendieta catches the rebound and taps it in.


From that moment, Real Betis control the game, but in the 77th minute, Valencia got a penalty for a handball. Claramunt takes it and scores, making up the final 2-1.


Even then, the team does not suffer. The team ends and Betis qualifies for the quarter-finals, where they met Espanyol, team that is also beaten by the Green and Whites. That year, the last with the name Copa del Generalísimo, Betis gets to the semi-finals but loses to Zaragoza. The following year, the first Copa del Rey was conquered.


Now, at the gates of an exciting semi-final against Valencia, this memory comes back. Four decades have gone by. It's time to renovate our joy.