- Barcelona miss chances in first half
- Upped the tempo after the break for victory
- Now eight points clear at top of La Liga
TELL ME MORE: An end-to-end start at the Benito Villamarin Stadium reflected the importance of the game for both sides, with Betis not afraid to try to put their visitors under pressure. Barcelona settled into the half, though, and created chances aplenty. Raphinha had the ball in the back of the net, but saw his goal chalked off for offside; a summary of a frustrating 45 minutes that saw La Blaugrana unable to finish their chances.
Pedri forced a fantastic save out of Rui Silva early on in the second period as Barcelona ramped up the pressure. Betis sat deeper and deeper, but inevitably caved as Alejandro Balde bombed forward and played a brilliant cross for Raphinha to fire home. Robert Lewandowski - back from a suspension - doubled that lead with 10 minutes to go, but an own goal from Jules Kounde threatened to spoil the party. Crucially, Barcelona hung on for the win.
THE MVP: A goal being ruled out for offside looked like the beginning of yet another frustrating night in the Barcelona shirt for Raphinha. And when Ansu Fati began warming up early in the second half, all signs pointed towards him being Xavi's first substitution. However, patience paid dividends, and a performance that wasn't short of effort or creativity was capped off by him deservedly tapping in the opener after 65 minutes - a goal that would ultimately send Barcelona eight points clear at the top of La Liga.
THE BIG LOSER: Just as Xavi thought his side were home and dry thanks to Lewandowski's goal for 2-0, a rather freakish and definitely avoidable own goal from Kounde put Barcelona under real pressure when trying to see out the game. The Frenchman made a mess of cleaning up a cross at the back post, got his angles wrong and chested it into his own net, making for an uncomfortable end and taking a clean sheet off goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:GettyGettyGetty
WHAT NEXT? The pressure is now firmly on Real Madrid to get a positive result - a win and nothing less - at home to Valencia tomorrow night in order to not let Barcelona start running away with one hand on the La Liga crown.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐