Real Betis 2-2 Barcelona: Dani Alves sent off as late Keita equaliser saves Guardiola from final league-game defeat
The Andalusian outfit came from behind to take the lead but the Malian midfielder scored a late header to earn his team a point in spite of Dani Alves' sending off
By Luke Matthews
Ten-man Barcelona rounded off their ultimately disappointing Liga campaign with a 2-2 draw against Real Betis at the Benito Villamartin on Saturday as Seydou Keita's injury-time equaliser cancelled out a late Ruben Castro double in Pep Guardiola's final league game in charge of the Catalans.
Sergio Busquets grabbed the first goal for the visitors by heading in from a corner as Barcelona looked in a commanding position at half-time. However, Dani Alves' sending off after the break proved to be a turning point as Castro scored two goals to give the home team the lead late on. Nevertheless, Seydou Keita's injury-time header prevented Guardiola from bowing out in La Liga on a sour note.
Barca made a fairly bright start to proceedings and provided Betis with an early warning when Lionel Messi played a wonderful through-ball in the seventh minute into the path of Ibrahim Afellay. However, Casto Espinosa was alert enough to storm out of his goalmouth to clear what could have been the opening strike of the game.
The Catalan visitors did not have to wait too long for another opportunity and in the eighth minute they surged into the lead. Xavi whipped in an impressive corner from the left and Busquets did brilliantly to make a run towards the front post before flicking an unstoppable header into the far corner of the net, leaving Casto helpless.
After taking the lead, Barcelona looked the most likely side to score during the rest of the first period yet failed to create anything too dangerous, while Betis appeared to be a little overawed by the occasion as the away team took their 1-0 lead into the break.
Barca started the second period strongly and nearly doubled their advantage on 48 minutes. Pedro's jinking run was interrupted by Chica yet the defender inadvertently played the ball into the path of Keita, who saw his snapshot from 12 yards brilliantly stopped by the strong wrist of Casto.
Despite looking fairly comfortable, Dani Alves shot his own side in the foot when he inexplicably lunged at Jefferson Montero to pick up his second yellow card of the match in the 53rd minute, with the referee forced to give the Brazilian his marching orders.
The home side were buoyed by the sending off and it was evident to see in their attacking play. They nearly found an equaliser on 68 minutes when Nacho charged forward. The left-back's low cross deflected off Javier Mascherano before hitting Victor Valdes' leg as Gerard Pique managed to clear the ball from danger two yards from his own goal.
The Verdiblancos continued to exert pressure on their illustrious opponents and they were rewarded when they drew level on 71 minutes. Substitute Roque Santa Cruz flicked the ball into the path of Castro with his head before the striker dinked it over the onrushing Valdes to score one of the most memorable strikes of his career.
Amazingly Betis turned the game on its head completely when they took the lead in the 75th minute. After a clever passing move, Benat flicked the ball forward to Castro who ran clear of the Barca defence before comfortably netting past Valdes again for his 16th strike of the season.
But with the clock ticking and Guardiola & Co. staring at their fourth league defeat of the season, Keita came to the Blaugrana's rescue when he got on the end of Martin Montoya's cross to send his header into the far corner and earn a dramatic point for the Catalans.
Betis' season has now come to an end with the Andalusian club currently occupying 13th spot, although this could change with Sunday's fixtures. Barca still have another match to play in the Copa del Rey final versus Athletic Bilbao final on May 25 in what will be Guardiola's last competitive game as coach of the club.
- Own Goal
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- Yellow Card
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- Goal.com Rating
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