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Primera División

  • January 15, 2012
  • • 3:30 PM
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: Ignacio Iglesias
  • • Attendance: 69889

Barcelona 4-2 Betis: Alexis and Messi clinch vital win for Barcelona

The Andalusian side outplayed its opponent for a majority of the game but will rue the missed chances along with a second half red card which allowed Barca to earn the victory.

With late second half goals from Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi, Barcelona was able to earn a difficult 4-2 victory over Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening.

First half goals from Xavi and Messi were cancelled out by a close range strike from Ruben Castro and a second half rocket by Roque Santa Cruz.  After Mario Alvarez picked up a red card, the home side was able to earn the advantage through Sanchez, with Messi scoring the fourth goal through a penalty.

Thus far, Pep Guardiola's men had not allowed a single goal to be conceded at home. Their inspired opponent looked as if it was going to change this early on. In the 7th minute, Betis nearly opened scoring when Castro isolated Jorge Molina in the 18-yard box. The striker had his point blank strike turned away by Victor Valdes.

On the resulting corner, an unmarked Castro rose to dangerously head the ball towards the home side's goal, having his effort once again turned aside by Valdes.

Los Verdiblancos will rue missing their chances as moments later, Barcelona made them pay for their lack of accuracy. On the edge of the 18-yard box, Isaac Cuenca played a clever through ball for Cesc Fabregas. The Spain international shot towards goal but had his effort denied by the post. On the rebound, Xavi made no mistake and slotted the ball in to open scoring in the 10th minute.

Two minutes later, Alexis Sanchez worked his way up the left side, and sent a looping cross in for Messi who tapped the ball into Casto Espinosa's goal to double the Catalan side's advantage.

In the 32nd minute, Valdes was forced to pick up the ball from the back of his goal for the first time this season. After working his way around the Barcelona keeper, Molina found Salvo Sevilla at the edge of the box. The midfielder hit a weak effort towards goal but Castro redirected into the net to bring his side back into the game.

In the second half, Betis continued to outplay its opponent and managed to equalize. On a rapid counterattack, Santa Cruz found Molina on the left. The pacy forward ran up his flank and returned the ball to Santa Cruz who unleashed a screamer from outside the box to beat Valdes for the second time of the night.

The Blaugrana upped the tempo, looking to earn the advantage with their usual style of play.  Their opponent, however, did not have its nerves shaken as countless Barcelona opponents do, and seemingly soaked up all the pressure that the home side was placing on it.

In the 70th minute, Mario earned his second yellow card and was sent off. Capitalizing on the man advantage five minutes later, the home side earned the advantage. Sanchez struck a weak effort from outside the box to beat Casto who could've done more to stop the Chilean's strike.

Soon after, Jose Dorado was punished for a handball in his own box as Barcelona was awarded a penalty. Messi did not falter from six yards, and sealed the victory for his side.

With the victory, Barcelona continues to keep pace with Real Madrid, finding its five points away from the top of the table. Betis still finds itself mid-table, hoping to keep pace and avoid the relegation zone.

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