Betis’ two goals were the first the team have conceded at home in the league this season.
In a hard fought game, won with two late goals, Barça took three important points from their clash with Betis. After taking an early lead through Xavi and Messi in the first quarter of an hour, Barça saw Betis fight back with a goal before the break and an equaliser in the second half. At 2-2, the visitors were reduced to 10 men and Alexis and Messi, from the penalty spot, made sure of the points which leave Guardiola’s men still in the fight for the title, five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.
The team offered their latest trophy – the FIFA Club World Cup – to the fans and Messi also showed off his Ballon D’Or award before going on to show just why he’s considered the world’s best player.
Two goals in three minutes
Just as they had done in last season’s Cup game at the Camp Nou, Betis came into the game determined to attack and not just sit back and wait for Barça to come at them. Their bold attitude was very nearly rewarded early on, when Jorge Molina broke free of his marker and was only denied by Valdes’ legs when he was clear on the keeper. Barça soon hit back though, with two goals within two minutes from Xavi and Messi to take a two goal lead after just 15 minutes.
Betis refuse to lie down
The visitors didn’t let their heads drop though and showed that they were determined to go toe to toe with the World Champions enjoying much more possession than most teams who come to the Camp Nou. Their first goal came after a long period of control on the ball, when Castro tapped in from close range on 32 minutes to set up a tasty looking second half .
Santa Cruz equaliser
There were two interesting changes at half time, with Alves coming on for Cuenca and Santa Cruz replacing Iriney – who’d picked up a yellow and come close to a second just before the break. The change worked well for Betis when the Paraguayan striker fired in a perfectly placed right foot drive from the edge of the box to level the scores on 52 minutes.
Alexis gives Barça the lead again
The crowd now got really behind the team and they in turn moved up a gear as they laid siege to the Betis goal. It looked as if Iniesta had won a penalty when he was brought down in the box, but the ref somehow managed to show the Barça midfielder a yellow for diving instead! There was no doubt in his mind instants later though, when Mario hacked down Messi on the edge of the box and the Betis man duly received his second yellow and his marching orders. Barça were quick to take advantage of their numerical superiority and after some great work from Xavi, Alexis gave them the lead again.
With the lead established and Betis struggling with 10 men, Dorado handled in the box and Messi gratefully fired home the resulting penalty to seal three vital points that keep Barça very much alive in the chase for yet another league title.