Real Betis 2-3 Barcelona: the men of Quique Setien come twice from behind to win a thriller with five goals
Lionel Messi produced a hat-trick of assists when Barcelona came twice from behind to beat Betis 3-2 and to go back to three points behind the leaders Real Madrid.
Nabil Fekir stole the show in the first half, but he was sent in the second because Betis ran out of ideas and defender Clement Lenglet became the winner of Barcelona.
The spaces opened with two shipments in the second period. “We end the game dead on our feet,” said Sergio Roberto. “But we end our series of defeats.”
Clement Lenglet (center) celebrates giving Barcelona the lead against Betis for the first time
Lenglet’s free-kick header beat Robles in the Real Betis goal
The Barcelona players celebrate with the French defender after scoring in the second half
REAL BETIS: (4-2-3-1) Robles; Emerson, Mandi, Bartra, Moreno; Carvalho (Joaquin 70), Rodriguez (Tello 86); Alena, Canales, Fekir; Iglesias (Loren 62)
SUBS NOT USED: Martin Fernandez (GK); Barragan, Sidnei, Gonzalez
GOALS: Canales (PEN 6), Fekir (26)
Bookings: Emerson (36), Mandi (45 + 2), Joaquin (72), Fekir (76)
SENT: Fekir (77)
BARCELONA: (4-4-2) ter Stegen; Semedo, Umtiti, Lenglet, Junior (Alba 57); S.Roberto, Busquets, De Jong, Vidal (Arthur 57); Messi, Griezmann (Rakitic 89)
SUBS NOT USED: Inaki Pena (GK); Araujo, Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati
GOALS: De Jong (9), Busquets (45 + 3), Lenglet (73)
Bookings: Lenglet (5), Roberto (29), Vidal (33), Busquets (57)
SENT: Lenglet (79)
TRAINER: Quique Setien
REFEREE: Jose Sanchez Martinez
MAN OF THE COMPETITION: Lionel Messi
EVENT LOCATION: Benito Villamarin Stadium
Barcelona had lost to Valencia and Athletic Bilbao on the road under Quique Setien, this was a huge win for him when he last coached before taking over at Camp Nou.
Betis took the lead within six minutes and the goal came from one of Fekir’s many positive early contributions.
It was his shot that Clement Lenglet held out an arm to block and although referee Jose Sanchez did not see it, the VAR monitor pitchside showed him what he had missed and Sergio Canales scored from the spot.
Barcelona’s response was not long in coming. They played almost without a center defender.
Messi and Antoine Griezmann started the game there as central strikers, but they often fell deep and it was midfielders Arturo Vidal and Frenkie de Jong who ran past them.
It was Messi who dropped out and let the ball run over the top for De Jong to run on, that brought the goal.
His run was perfectly timed and with one touch and a volleyed he finished the score.
After provoking one yellow card for Lenglet’s handball, Fekir then drew the next two due to errors by Sergio Roberto and Vidal.
He brought about an enchanting change of direction to get away from Nelson Semedo. And there was also a “Rabona” cross in the exhibition.
Betis took an early lead from the penalty area when Sergio Canales blocked the opener
Canales celebrates with his teammates after taking the lead on Sunday-evening
With the help of VAR referee Jose Sanchez, Betis awarded a penalty for a handball in the area
The highlight of the one-man show, however, was 26 minutes when Arturo Vidal donated possession of Barcelona and encouraged to continue through the retreating Samuel Umtiti and Semedo, Fekir carrying the ball forward before unleashing a low shot that defeated Ter Stegen.
Barcelona had to come back again, but they came back. With the clock showing 47 minutes, Messi was floating a free kick in the area and when it was nodded, Sergio Busquets was in the room to hook it home.
It is the first time in his career that he scores twice in the competition in one season.
Betis complained about an error on Marc Bartra who had dived the swan in the area after a collision with Lenglet. No mistake was made and the goal was set.
Frenkie de Jong volys at home a brilliant earlier just minutes later to make it 1-1 in the first half
The Dutchman was found by the heart of the Betis defense by Lionel Messi
De Jong hits the air after leveling the scores after a hectic opening of 10 minutes
Nabil Fekir (center) restored the lead for Betis with a low effort from outside the box
The strike by Fekir caused the Benito Villamarin stadium to falter when Barcelona again lagged behind
Messi could have put Barcelona on the hour for the first time in the game, but after he wriggled into space, his shot was sent away for a corner by Joel Robles.
His next attempt went wide, chipping substitute Jordi Alba’s pull-back just past the rear post.
Messi brought Barcelona’s third goal, but it was a free kick on Lenglet’s head that made it a hat trick for assists. Again there were Betis complaints and again they were unfounded. Lenglet was simply stronger than the Betis defenders.
Betis was irritated. The game had slipped from them and no one was more upset than Fekir who had been so brilliant in the first half.
Until well into the first half of the time, Sergio Busquets stopped with a second Barca equalizer
The Spaniard was the unlikely goal scorer because the Betis defense claimed an error in the build-up
He picked up a yellow for a late tackle on Arthur and when he raised his arm in protest as he walked away from the referee, the match officer showed him the same yellow card again and then pulled a red card.
It was hard. It had hardly been a “in the face of the referee” of discontent.
Referee Sanchez soon brought things in balance. Lenglet was late for substitute Joaquin and after having already booked the second yellow meant a red and Barcelona were now also up to ten men.
Fekir (center) is shown two yellow cards in quick succession and is sent in the second half
Barcelona held on to the end with Ter Stegen who spared unorthodoxly and raised his head to cross the byline during injury time to discover that no one had followed him to the area.
Messi might have had a last-minute penalty, but for some reason the referee didn’t think Bartra grabbed him around the waist with both arms deserving of the spot kick.
It didn’t matter, because Barcelona insisted and that led to another bear hug – this time on the sidelines between a relieved Setien and his assistants.