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December 9, 2012
• Estadio Benito Villamarín, Sevilla
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
• Attendance: 46157
Rubén Castro 39'
L. Messi 16', 25'
That's all from me for tonight guys! Thanks for joining me for Messi's record-breaking game, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. We are lucky to have him. Lionel Messi - 86 goals in 2012. Wow! Good night everyone.
FULL-TIME: BETIS 1-2 BARCELONA The record-breaking Lionel Messi secured all three points for the Catalan giants against Pepe Mel's side this evening. The 25-year-old scored a fine double in the first half to give his side a two-goal lead and break Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year in the process. Ruben Castro pulled one back for Betis before half-time, but the home side could not find an equaliser after the break despite hitting the woodwork three times. The win takes Barca six points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, while Betis drop down to fifth.
90' + 5'
THERE IS THE FINAL WHISTLE! Barcelona have held out for the win here at Benito Villamarin!
90' + 4'
Benat's delivery is good, but the headed effort from Castro flies over Valdes' crossbar and out for a goal kick. That must be it surely.
90' + 3'
Time is running out and Betis have a corner...
90' + 1'
The midfielder's pumped pass lands straight on the head of Mascherano, and Barcelona are able to breath a sigh of relief as it allows them to waste some valuable seconds.
Yellow Card Nacho
Betis have a free kick! The big men make their way forward from the back, and Benat prepares to launch the set piece into the Barcelona box from the halfway line.
... Messi goes for his hat-trick from the free kick but his swirling effort is a couple of yards away from testing Adrian.
Thiago robs Canas of possession inside the Betis half, and the ball eventually finds its way almost inevitably to the left foot of Messi. The Argentine dribbles towards the home side's penalty area but is sent sprawling to the deck by a foul from the Betis right-back Chica. Not a bad position for a free kick, just right of centre, 25 yards out...
Adriano cuts in from the right before hitting an effort at goal from 25 yards with his left foot, and despite the ball bouncing in front of Adrian, the shot is collected calmly by the Betis goalkeeper.
BARCA HIT THE POST AND THE BAR IN THE SPACE OF ABOUT TWO SECONDS!! Messi swivels superbly to fire a shot against the post from 12 yards before Alba somehow hits the bar from the rebound despite it looking easier to score. Alba will be praying Barca hold out for the win here, as that miss could well cause a few nightmares...
No surprise who is replaced for Barcelona... Pedro comes off for Thiago. The Barca forward takes a while to leave the field of play, despite being pushed towards the touchline by Betis' Chica!
BETIS STRIKE THE WOODWORK FOR THE THIRD TIME!! That is so unfortunate for Pozuelo! The substitute sends a stunning half volley onto the left-hand post from 20 yards. They have had no luck so far in this game, the home side.
Vadillo is just offside for Betis on the right as the home side throw men forward in search of a goal that would make it 2-2. They have looked far stronger than Barcelona in this second half!
PEDRO SHOOTS STRAIGHT AT ADRIAN!! The Barca attacker has a chance to restore his team's two-goal lead but fails to really test Adrian in the Betis goal with a shot that is easily dealt with by the home side's goalkeeper.
Yellow Card Pedro
That setback for Cesc will come as a blow for Vilanova, with Pedro and Alexis putting in disappointing performances for the Catalan giants this evening.
CESC INJURY UPDATE: Barcelona's official Twitter account has confirmed that Cesc picked up a thigh muscle injury in the first half and is likely to be out of action for between three and four weeks, but will undergo more tests tomorrow.
The home side make their final change of the evening, Salva making way for the attacker, Pozuelo.
Pique had to make that interception! The Barcelona centre-back is positioned perfectly to stop Benat's sliding pass from reaching Castro, as Betis attack once more.
Barcelona have a chance to challenge from a corner of their own on the right, but Xavi's cross drifts to the edge of the Betis box where it is hacked upfield by Canas.
BETIS HIT THE POST!! Benat's corner from the left is deflected goalwards by Barcelona's Mascherano, but cannons back off the post much to the relief of Valdes who was nowhere near stopping the ball. How did that not go in?!
HUGE STAT: Iniesta has provided seven assists in Liga games so far this season, the same number he managed in the whole of the last league campaign.
Lovely play from Benat! The floppy-haired midfield maestro evades a couple of challenges in the centre of the pitch with some feints and is then able to pass the ball out to Nacho under no pressure at all.
ALERT PLAY FROM ADRIAN! The Betis goalkeeper sprints from his line to meet the ball ahead of Messi. It's just as well he does, as if he hadn't got there the Argentine would have been in on goal for his hat-trick!
The away side have struggled to find their rhythm since half-time, with Pedro in particular disappointing as they look to move the ball into attacking areas. Might we see the introduction of David Villa in the not-too-distant future?
Yellow Card Vadillo
Benat's effort is straight into the Barcelona wall though. That is a waste from the talented midfielder, he is far better than that!
YELLOW CARD FOR ALBA!! The Barcelona left-back picks up a booking for a cynical foul on Vadillo as the Betis attacker raced towards the penalty area with the ball at his feet. The home side have a free kick 35 yards out...
Yellow Card Jordi Alba
The ball finds its way to Pedro on the right for the visitors but he fails to pick out a team-mate with his cross into the box and Betis are able to launch a counter attack of their own.
Mascherano is demanding a free kick as Molina challenges him on the right, but the referee has none of it and awards a corner to the home side. Betis fail to trouble Valdes from the set piece though, with Barcelona looking to counter after Pique heads the ball clear.
Molina has had a decent impact on the match since coming on at the break. The attacker has just dragged a shot wide of Valdes' left-hand post, but he is linking well with Vadillo and Castro as Betis chase an equaliser.
STAT: Xavi has now made the joint-highest number of Liga starts for Barcelona: 386. He now shares the record set by Migueli.
Pepe Mel's side have started the second half far better than Barcelona here, and are dominating both possession and chances. The crowd are fully behind them too, and are roaring their team on as they attack Valdes' goal.
The Betis substitute Molina rifles a shot at goal from 20 yards, but it is easy for Valdes to deal with, the goalkeeper casually stepping to his left and catching the ball.
VALDES NEARLY GIFTS BETIS A GOAL!! A sliced cross from the left catches the Barcelona goalkeeper out and he is forced to jump backwards and claw the ball away under pressure from Castro. That was close to being an equaliser for Betis!
Benat smashed the set piece towards Molina on the penalty spot but Pique is alert and able to head the ball away.
Betis have a free kick on the left, five yards outside the Barcelona box, after Vadillo is caught by the flailing arm of Adriano.
Hang on, Betis made a substitution at the break too! Campbell went off to be replaced by Jorge Molina. That one snuck under the radar somehow.
It appears Pepe Mel may have had some strong words of encouragement for Betis during the interval, with his team starting this half full of energy and desire to press Barcelona when they have the ball.
Just the one change at the break, Barcelona replacing Puyol with Javier Mascherano.
Betis get the second half underway here at Benito Villamarin...
Don't forget you can let me know your thoughts on that first half, and by that I mean you can let me know your thoughts on Messi's new record, by posting your comments in the box to the right of this commentary.
HALF-TIME: BETIS 1-2 BARCELONA Pepe Mel's side trail by one against a Barcelona inspired by Lionel Messi. The Argentine scored his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 to set a new record for goals in a calendar year, as Tito Vilanova's side strolled into a two-goal lead. Ruben Castro reduced the deficit shortly before the break with a well-taken finish, but the story of the first half was no doubt Messi and his marvellous new record.
45' + 2'
The referee blows his whistle to mark the end of the first half!
45' + 1'
Campbell is allowed space on the right by Alba and wastes no time in sending a cross towards Castro, but the pass is wayward and lands straight in the waiting arms of Valdes.
The fourth official signals for two minutes of added time at the end of this half.
Messi tries to find some space to get a shot away inside the Betis box, but Dorado stands firm and blocks the Argentine's route to goal. The home side quickly counter through Castro and Salva but are eventually stopped by a timely interception from Alba on the edge of his own penalty area.
Perhaps to reinforce the size of the task at hand for Betis' midfield, let's have a glance at the possession stats for this first half... Betis 29%-71% Barcelona.
That was a very calm finish from Castro to make it 2-1. Betis know they can test this Barcelona defence, it's just a case of getting the ball in midfield, which admittedly is no easy task against the likes of Busquets and Xavi.
Goal Rubén Castro
BETIS PULL A GOAL BACK THROUGH CASTRO! The forward notches his ninth goal of the season after curling a shot past Valdes following a neat through ball from the substitute Vadillo. Alba played Castro onside there, as Barcelona's defence failed to pick him up as he made his run into the penalty area. Game on?
YELLOW CARD FOR CAMPBELL! The Costa Rican international is the first man into the referee's notebook after flying into a tackle with Alba and connecting with the player rather than the ball. He can have no complaints, it's not his first offence of the game!
Yellow Card J. Campbell
They choose not to do that... and play it short instead! This team just love being in possession of the football, and who can blame them, they're rather good at it.
Salva barges his way into Iniesta inside the Betis half and Barcelona have a free kick and a chance to bring men forward for the set piece.
GOOD STOP FROM ADRIAN! The Betis goalkeeper pulls off another fine save, this time from Xavi, after the midfielder thumped an effort towards the top right corner from 20 yards.
Adrian races off his line to boot the ball out of play as Barcelona threaten to add a third. Messi, Iniesta and Pedro are causing all sorts of problems for the Betis back line at the moment, and a third goal seems on the horizon.
Campbell is dispossessed on the left by Alba, with the Barcelona full-back booed by the home fans after demanding that they throw him the ball after it flew into the stands.
Amidst the furore surrounding Messi's record-breaking strike Betis were forced into making their first change of the evening following that knock picked up by Juan Carlos. The attacker has been replaced by Alvaro Vadillo.
ALEXIS IS OFFSIDE!! The Barca forward strays a yard or so offside as he looks to connect with Xavi's cross from the right. It makes little difference though, as his headed effort balloons over Adrian's crossbar anyway!
What a lovely piece of skill that was from Iniesta to set Messi up for the second time this evening! Barcelona are dominating this match so far.
MESSI HAS DONE IT!! GOAL NO. 86! It's taken the Argentine just 25 minutes here to score twice and equal then overtake Muller's record from 1972. His second tonight is a stunning left-foot strike after a wonderful back-heeled assist from Iniesta on the left-hand side of the Betis box.
Betis have got injury concerns of their own now as Juan Carlos appears in a spot of bother following a clash with Alexis as the Chilean drove forward with the ball down the right.
I tell you what, you can't tell Messi was a doubt for this match. He's all over the place! The 25-year-old was stretchered off against Benfica during the week, but he's running freely in this game, and is pulling Betis' defence all over the shop.
STAT: Messi's goal not only draws him level with Muller for most goals in a calendar year, it also makes him Barcelona's leading all-time league goalscorer, with 191. Before this match he was tied in first place with Cesar Rodriguez on 190.
A foul from Pique as Xavi curls the corner into the box results in a free kick for the home side. Barcelona have struggled against Betis in recent years, but they look in control of this one in the opening 20 minutes.
GREAT SAVE FROM ADRIAN!! Iniesta chips a delightful effort towards goal from just inside the Betis box but the back-tracking goalkeeper is equal to it, and palms the ball over the crossbar for a corner to the visitors.
GOAL FOR BARCELONA!! GUESS WHO? Messi grabs his 85th of 2012 to equal Gerd Muller's record with a fine driving run and strike into the bottom right corner. The attacker took a pass from Andres Iniesta 30 yards from goal and proceeded to drift past the challenges of Dorado and Amaya before hammering the ball low into the corner of Adrian's net.
Juan Carlos jinxes down the left and into the Barcelona box, but his cross to Ruben Castro is far too close to Valdes, and the goalkeeper is able to dive onto the ball and retrieve possession for the Catalan side.
Betis are furious with the referee following what they believe are two clear handballs in the space of a couple of minutes by Gerard Pique. On both occasions it looked more a case of ball-to-hand, with the referee siding with the visitors and waving play on both times.
The injury sustained by Cesc is forcing him off here. Alexis Sanchez is the man chosen by Tito Vilanova to replace him.
Cesc Fabregas is down, and looks like he might not be able to continue here... That would be a big blow to Barcelona, with Cesc their leading assist-provider so far this season.
Messi swings the set piece into the Betis penalty area but fails to find a team-mate as Dorado heads the ball to safety.
OUCH! That was a strong tackle from Salva on Sergio Busquets in the Betis half, and unsurprisingly results in a free kick for Barcelona. Salva got absolutely none of the ball there.
Barcelona continue to threaten in the opening stages here, with Andres Iniesta the latest player to attempt to dribble his way into the Betis box. A strong block from Chica quashes the attack on this occasion though, and the home team are able to clear the ball away.
Adriano makes a great run down the right for the visitors but Pedro's through ball to the Brazilian full-back is slightly overhit and runs out of play for a Betis goal kick. Adriano would have been in one-on-one against the similarly-named Adrian if that pass had been a bit better!
The home side soon win back possession though, and go on to create the first attempt on goal. Joel Campbell hooks a cross into the path of Salva Sevilla inside the Barcelona box, but the Betis man's header is straight at Victor Valdes. That was a HUGE chance for Pepe Mel's side to take the lead!
Benat plays the ball back to Adrian but the Betis goalkeeper's clearance goes straight to Xavi in midfield.
The Argentine will be looking to break Muller's record tonight, but he will also be hoping to break an unwanted sequence at this stadium. Messi has never won a league game at Benito Villamarin!
Barcelona get the ball rolling through Messi and Pedro...
The teams are out on the pitch at Benito Villamarin, and we are just moments away from kick-off!
The Argentine has another chance to equal or break Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year this evening, with the 25-year-old sitting on 84 ahead of kick-off. Will he do it? Let me know your thoughts in our shiny comment box!
MESSI STARTS! Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Adriano, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
Betis (4-3-3): Adrian; Chica, Amaya, Dorado, Nacho; Canas, Benat, Salva; Juan Carlos, Campbell, Ruben Castro
At Goal we don't waste time. EVER. So how about both team's line-up for you to sink your teeth into?
My name is Charlie Scott, and I'll be the man trusted with bringing you colourful updates from the match at the Benito Villamarin as it unfolds.
Good evening guys and girls, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of Barcelona's trip to Betis, as the Catalan giants attempt to secure their eighth consecutive win on the road in La Liga.
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