By Chris Wright
Spare a thought for Real Betis centre-back Paulao, who endured a rotten old afternoon against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend as his two early, almost back-to-back defensive rickets saw Betis pretty much consigned to their fate as relegation certs.
Both errors led directly to goals for Vallecano; the first being a limp, woefully under-hit back-pass that allowed Ruben Rochina to nip in and put Rayo 1-0 up after just 14 minutes, and the second coming 12 minutes later when the hapless Brazilian defender shanked a hopeful cross into the box from Anaitz Arbilla into the back of his own goal via his shinpad.
As Paulao lay in an inconsolable heap on the floor, Rayo captain Roberto Trashorras offered to help him back to his feet and it was at that point the Betis man’s spirit broke entirely as he looked mournfully over at the bench and asked to be put out of his misery by making the internationally-recognised “sub me off” hand gesture.
Betis coach Gabriel Calderon duly obliged and subbed him off, with poor old Paulao spending the rest of the game softly sobbing on the bench.
“He couldn’t cope with feeling responsible; he couldn’t carry on after the mistake,” said Betis coach Calderon after the match.
Betis, already bottom of the Liga table coming into the game, went on to lose 3-1, Paulao having an unwitting and unwanted hand in both of the first two goals – leaving them 10 points adrift of safety with just four games remaining.
It ain’t looking good.