Rennes pegged back by Betis
By D. Crossan
Rennes allowed a two-goal half-time lead to slip as they drew 3-3 at home to Rea Betis in the first leg of the round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League at Roazhon Park.
Rennes made the perfect start, going two goals clear inside ten minutes. While Betis dominated possession, as Rennes coach Julien Stephan expected they would, and pulled a goal back through PSG loanee Giovani Lo Celso, the Breton club restored a two-goal lead before the interval thanks to a Hatem Ben Arfa penalty. Betis dominated after the break, though, and pulled level in the second half.
The game began ideally for the hosts as Adrien Hunou (2') scored his first European goal, finishing off a perfect Mehdi Zeffane low cross from the left. Ben Arfa had done superbly, taking opponents out of the game before distributing the ball to Zeffane.
Roazhon Park revelled in a second goal as Ismaïla Sarr's half-volley (10') was pushed by visiting goalkeeper Joel Robles onto team-mate Javi Garcia, who scored an own goal. Betis' possession began to tell and Lo Celso (32') reminded the French game of his worth with a goal, even if there was a great deal of good fortune as the Argentinian international's left-footed shot clipped his standing foot before beating Tomas Koubek.
Rennes went 3-1 up (45+3') after Sarr had been deemed to have been fouled by Andrés Guardado. Ben Arfa was coolness personified from the spot as he sent Robles the wrong way. The second half began badly for Rennes as Sarr was forced off with a knee problem and then Sergio Canales (51') hit the post with a volley following glorious chest control.
Rennes were having trouble defensively and it was no surprise when Sidnei (62') reduced Betis' arrears with a header from a free-kick delivered by veteran captain Joaquin. A Betis equaliser arrived (90') when first-half substitute Diego Lainez, influential throughout, found the bottom corner with a left-footed shot after Rennes failed to deal with a corner.
THE PLAYER: Hatem Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa, 31, has by far the most European experience of anybody in the Rennes squad and this was his 46th continental appearance. The match witnessed the best and the worst of the former PSG man as he played a crucial role in the first Rennes goal, and scored the third, but also played his team into trouble at times by taking too long to release the ball.
THE STAT: 1
This was Rennes' first match in the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League.