Cristhian Stuani Boosts Girona European Dream With Late Betis Winner


Cristian Stuani's last-gasp strike gave Verona an entertaining 3-2 win over Real Betis on Sunday, keeping the minnows on track for Champions League qualification. Michel Sanchez's side had been badly outclassed after being close to title race-leading Real Madrid for most of the season, but Stuani's goal secured their third win in eight matches. Betis forward Willian Jose scored twice due to two mistakes by David Lopez and Verona forward Artem Dovbyk equalized twice, but experienced Uruguayan forward Stuani gave the final say.

Third-placed Verona is nine points ahead of fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao, with the Basque team visiting Real Madrid on Sunday, while Atletico Madrid is 10 points behind in fifth and faces Villarreal on Monday.

With eight matches remaining, Verona is seven points behind Los Blancos and two behind second-place Barcelona, ​​which beat Las Palmas on Saturday.

“Until (qualification) is mathematically decided, we will keep working and preparing for the matches as if they were the last,” Stuani told DAZN.

“We are on a good path, living a historic year and let's end it on the best note.”

At the rainy Montelivi Stadium, the two sides had a heated exchange without producing much in the early stages.

Eventually, the hosts were given a chance to break the deadlock when Chadi Riyad handled Dovbik's header.

The Ukrainian calmly converted the spot to send his team ahead after 36 minutes, although they did not hold on to the lead for long.

In stoppage time, López gave way to the ball with a careless pass and Jose quickly fired the ball across goal from more than 30 yards and beat Paulo Gazzaniga in his goal.

Verona went back in front after a nice move finished by Dovbić. The striker slotted home after 65 minutes that Portu had scored, his 16th goal, taking him level with Madrid's Jude Bellingham as La Liga's top scorer.

Betis were soon back level after another mistake from Lopez. Jose was again the beneficiary.

The defender extended a leg behind him to try to clear the cross but missed and Jose took control before firing wide.

It looked as if Verona was set to drop more points until Stuani scored an acrobatic finish from close range in stoppage time after his first-time effort was saved.

“Luckily in the end this goal gave us the points,” Stuani said.

“It's a unique feeling, hard to explain, but the most important thing is three points for the team.”

Fans celebrated wildly in the pouring rain at the end as their European dream took another step towards becoming reality. This would be a remarkable achievement for a club in the top flight for only the fourth season in its history.

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