Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona: Robert Lewandowski marks return with goal as Xavi’s side go eight points clear

Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona: Robert Lewandowski marks return with goal as Xavi’s side go eight points clear

Updated: 1 month, 28 days, 13 hours, 5 minutes, 1 second ago

Robert Lewandowski marked his return from suspension with a goal as Barcelona beat Real Betis 2-1 to go eight points clear on top of La Liga.

Xavi’s side had to work hard to break down the resilient hosts in Seville, with goalkeeper Rui Silva denying a frustrated Pedri three times.


But Raphinha eventually found the breakthrough in the 65th minute when he tapped in from an Alex Balde cross after Frenkie de Jong caught out the Betis defence with a quickly-taken free-kick.


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Lewandowski fired home his 14th league goal of the season with 10 minutes remaining to seal the three points in his first league outing since 31 December, although a comical own goal from Jules Kounde late on led to a nervy finish.

Barcelona have hit the 50-point mark at the midway stage of the season and have a comfortable eight-point lead over rivals Real Madrid, who face Valencia on Thursday.

Top scorer Lewandowski’s return to the starting line-up following a three-game suspension was a boost for the visitors, but it wasn’t all good news as they were without the injured Ousmane Dembele.

After some early skirmishes, the in-form Pedri almost brought the game to life as he displayed some lightning footwork to dribble past two defenders in the box, only to be denied by Silva’s outstretched glove as he tried to round the goalkeeper.

Barca controlled possession, but Betis had their chances too, and a rapid counter-attack looked very promising until Jules Kounde’s superb last-ditch block denied Sergio Canales.

Raphinha headed home a De Jong cross but was immediately denied by the offside flag, before Pedri tried and failed to beat Silva another two times either side of half time - the keeper saved one effort with his feet before producing an even better stop early in the second half, leaping to his left to palm away a shot from 12 yards one-handed.

Some quick-thinking led to the eventual breakthrough, as De Jong didn’t hesitate to take a free-kick and set Balde away down the left, and the full-back’s low cross was tapped in at the back post by Raphinha.

Lewandowski looked to have wrapped up the points when he latched onto Ronald Araujo’s nod-down from a corner and fired home, but a bizarre moment reopened the match late on.

With five minutes to go, a cross to the back post looked relatively harmless, only for Kounde to somehow chest it into the back of his own net and give Betis a lifeline.

It ultimately led to a nervy finish, but the hosts were unable to make the unexpected boost count and things ended on a sour note when William Carvalho received a red card after the full-time whistle.

TALKING POINT – Barcelona leading from the back

‘Defence wins titles’ is one of the oldest clichés in the book, but Barcelona are keeping it fresh with their efforts this season.

The Catalans have hit the midway stage with a remarkable record of seven goals conceded in 19 matches, and the importance of their backline has been highlighted in recent weeks.

Xavi’s side have been struggling in front of goal and travelled south on the back of three straight 1-0 wins in all competitions. But with a defensive unit like this, one goal will be enough more often than not. Barca would have earned a fifth consecutive clean sheet in Seville were it not for Kounde’s baffling late own goal.


Sergio Busquets ran the midfield and Raphinha made a difference from the wing, but Balde’s energetic performance from left-back was impressive and ultimately led to the breakthrough.

The 19-year-old’s assist for Raphinha was superb both in its opportunism and in its execution. He even got a cheeky nutmeg in on Aitor Ruibal for good measure early on. Balde’s future looks very bright.


Real Betis: Silva 7, Ruibal 7, Pezzella 7, Felipe 6, Abner 6, Rodriguez 6, Carvalho 5, Henrique 6, Canales 6, Fekir 6, Iglesias 5

Subs: Rodri 6, Juanmi 6, Guardado 6, Jose 5, Sabaly 6

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Kounde 5, Araujo 7, Christensen 6, Balde 8, De Jong 7, Busquets 8, Pedri 7, Raphinha 8, Lewandowski 7, Gavi 6

Subs: Fati 6, Torres 6, Kessie 6



Almost a wonderful goal from the youngster! He picks up the ball just inside the area and dribbles past two defenders with quick feet, but he's denied by an outstretched hand as he tries to round Silva. Great goalkeeping!


De Jong dinks a fantastic cross into the box from the left wing and Raphinha leaps high to head home from close range, but he doesn't even have time to start celebrating as the offside is called immediately.


Barca find the breakthrough! Balde does brilliantly to set it up, bursting down the left and firing a low cross across the six yard box for Raphinha to tap in at the back post.


Is that game over? Lewandowski, just back from suspension, scores his 14th goal of the season. A corner is swung in and nodded down by Araujo into the striker's feet. He takes a touch, swivels, and smashes it into the bottom corner.


What was that?! Out of nowhere, Betis are handed a lifeline in comical fashion! A cross is swung in towards the back post but looks set to be easily dealt with by Kounde, only for the Frenchman to somehow chest it awkwardly into the back of his own net. Bizarre!


The drama has continued after the full-time whistle is blown, with Carvalho being shown a red card. We can only assume that was for some choice words to the referee.


Barcelona have won four La Liga games by a one goal margin for the first time ever. No La Liga player has been involved in more goals than Raphinha in 2023 between all competitions (6 - 3 goals and 3 assists, equal with Youssef En-Nesyri, 6 goals).

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