Real Betis vs. Barcelona – Football Match Report – February 1, 2023 – ESPN
Barcelona extended their LaLiga lead to eight points after Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski scored to earn them a hard-fought 2-1 win at Real Betis on Wednesday.
Barca are top on 50 points, eight points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid, who have a game in hand and will host struggling Valencia on Thursday. Betis are sixth on 31 points.
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Manager Xavi Hernandez was happy with the win for his LaLiga leaders, whose points tally midway through the season has them on track to potentially beat the single-season record of 100 held jointly between the Catalans and Real Madrid.
“I think we played really well,” Xavi said after the match. “I would say we were excellent in many phases of the game. We could have sentenced the game with Ansu [Fati’s] header to make it 3-0. But it was a great performance. I am really happy with the performance as much as the result.
“We took the ball off a team that has it a lot. We improved a lot from [Saturday’s win] at Girona.”
Barcelona controlled the game on a chilly night in Sevilla, but were foiled by goalkeeper Rui Silva who made three good saves to deny Pedri.
Betis had their chances on the counter-attack and almost scored through Borja Iglesias and Sergio Canales whose effort was blocked by Jules Kounde.
It took 65 minutes for Barcelona to break the deadlock with Raphinha tapping home from close-range before Lewandowski, who was returning after a three-game suspension, scored from a corner 15 minutes later.
“The sensations are good. We are working really hard and the results and points are a result of that,” Raphinha said. “We knew this would be a difficult game. Betis are really good. We knew we had to take out chances so that we didn’t suffer late on.”
Barcelona defender Jules Kounde scored an own goal in the 85th minute while trying to clear a Youssouf Sabaly cross with his chest, but the visitors held-on to claim the three points.
Betis had William Carvalho sent off after the final whistle for complaining to the referee, a common theme throughout the match with the hosts feeling numerous calls in their favour were missed.
“Games against Barca are always like this,” Iglesias said. “It’s hard to get the ball of them. They can push you back into your own half. Until their goal we were good. From there, it was another game. But I go home a little angry. I don’t want to get in to if they deserved it.”