Barcelona’s title charge ramps up in Seville
Barcelona stretched their unbeaten run to 14 competitive outings courtesy of a 2-1 victory at Real Betis in LaLiga action.
The Catalan club arrived in southern Spain boasting a comfortable five-point cushion at the top of the LaLiga standings after watching eternal rivals Real Madrid slump to a goalless stalemate in their last league outing. Therefore, against a Betis side that hasn’t won any of their previous three league home contests, Xavi’s men enjoyed a large dose of dominance. The hosts weren’t willing to play a bit-part role though, and Borja Iglesias threatened to steal the show after his run ended with a shot that flashed wide.
Despite the dancing feet of Pedri, Robert Lewandowski looked to be shaking off the rustiness from a prior three-game LaLiga ban. They were also without the injured Ousmane Dembélé this evening, and it was Raphinha who was doing his best impression of the direct Frenchman when he saw his goal disallowed for a clear offside. Despite the visitors’ lack of fluidity, Betis keeper Rui Silva had to save smartly from Pedri on the verge of HT with Barcelona starting to up the pressure.
Silva produced a second, even more impressive save from Pedri just after the interval and considering the scoreline as the hour mark passed, you started to get a feeling that if the visitors were to win, it could be the fifth of their last six LaLiga away victories to arrive by a 1-0 scoreline. Betis continued to offer a threat on the counter however, mostly through Nabil Fekir who saw a powerful effort thwarted by Marc-André ter Stegen as the game entered its final stages.
Possibly still smarting from his first-half goal being disallowed at the hands of the linesman, Raphinha tapped in from less than six yards at the end of a flowing move. Barcelona fans must have had a sense of Déjà vu in the closing stages, as Xavi’s men once again slid into third gear to preserve their lead. Football’s a funny game however, and there was a sudden flurry of goals as Lewandowski blew away the cobwebs to strike home from inside the penalty area before Jules Koundé turned into his own net to set up an unexpected grandstand finish.
It wasn’t to be for Betis, as despite the late scare, Barcelona were able to hold on for a fourth successive LaLiga victory and add further impetus to their title charge.