To HJK’s credit, it must be said that it started to play its own game bravely and fight for victory. If nothing else has accrued from the Betis loss, then at least HJK deserves a bit more respect from the opponents in their group in the future after the performance of the first match, writes HS sports reporter Ari Virtanen.
HJK’s the first group stage game in the Europa League ended with a 0–2 loss after an honorable and worthy performance. HJK did their best, but this time it was unfortunately not enough against Betis, who finished fifth in La Liga last season.
These are special nights and games, and you could sense it in the sold-out Bolt arena as HJK supporters cheered to the end.
To HJK’s credit, it must be said that it started to play its own game bravely and fight for victory. Throughout the game, HJK played their familiar game, tried to build their long attacks smartly and also tried to launch quick counterattacks when the opportunity arose.
Teams there was just too much difference in level. Betis didn’t make worse mistakes, but mercilessly punished HJK for its mistakes. Nassim Boujelab committed a foul that led to a penalty kick at the end of the opening period and in the second period there was a collective error in defending a corner kick that led to another setback.
Betis won the scoring attempts 19–4. That says a lot.
If nothing else was learned from the Betis loss, then at least HJK will deserve a bit more respect from their group’s opponents in the future after the performance of the first match.
There was a lot of good in the match, so to speak, so that HJK can take it into future matches.
However, the performance against Betis raised enough promises and expectations that with a similar performance, HJK can very well fight for points against the Bulgarian Ludogorets.
I bet that this time too the Club will have to pay their tuition fees first, just like eight years ago, when HJK last played in the Europa League. Then there were clear losses in the first two matches, but after that the Club was already ready for surprises.
Next week, the challenge will be at least as tough, when HJK will be AS Roma’s guest at the Stadio Olimpico. HJK hasn’t played a bigger away game than that in years – not even then eight years ago.
Before that, HJK has to take care of a challenging away match in the Veikkausliiga against the well-playing FC Honka on Sunday.
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