Image Credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
The Estadio Benito Villamarín was host to a fixture between first and sixth in the La Liga standings. Both these teams met a last month in the Spanish Super Cup where Barca qualified to the final via a penalty shootout. Betis will be eager to steal all three points and boost their chances of making the top four this season.
Barcelona started the game on the front foot. Recycling the ball and counter pressing with intensity. Though Betis tried to press, their efforts couldn’t cope with the quality that Barca brought in the opening minutes.
Despite Barca’s dominance, Betis had the first real chance of the night. Borja Iglesias found Luiz Henrique on the far post, he cut in and tried to test Ter Stegen from a narrow angle but it was deflected out for a corner.
In the 18th minute, after a sequence of tidy touches, Pedri found himself 1v1 against Rui Silva but failed to get his shot off and the keeper gathered.
Moments later, Iglesias took his first shot of the night from the edge of the 18 yard box but skied it.
Fekir threaded a pass through to Ruibal, he then found Canales inside the box, but his shot was blocked by Araujo.
Raphinha headed the ball into the back of the net in the 33rd minute after a De Jong cross. But it was quickly chalked off for offside.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Vincent West
Pedri found himself 1v1 against Costa again and the Portuguese came out on top once more.
In the 39th minute, Lewandowski found Gavi in the box. The Spaniard got his shot off but it was deflected out for another corner to Barcelona.
Both teams went into the locker room needing to improve their performances if either of them were going to leave the stadium with all three points.
Three minutes into the second half, Barca registered their first shot on target via Pedri. Balde beat his man and found his teammate in the box. But his left footed shot was saved by the keeper.
Fekir gave Ter Stegen his first test of the second half in the 54th minute. Luiz Henrique found Fekir on the right flank. He worked the ball onto his left boot before powering a shot towards goal but it was easily saved by the German keeper.
Barca opened the scoring in the 64th minute. De Jong took a quick free kick and found Balde on the left wing. The left back took it to the byline before driving a cross into the box which Raphinha tapped in from close range.
The traveling team doubled their lead in the 80th minute. Araujo’s flicked header fell to the feet of Lewandowski who made no mistake and gave his team a 2-0 lead.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Pablo Morano
Five minutes later, the substitute, Sabaly, whipped a cross into the box which Kounde chested down and anticipated his keeper to gather but the ball crawled into his own net. Barca’s lead was reduced to one.
In the end, Barca held on to their narrow lead and moved one step closer to the La Liga title.
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