A Tosca (36 og),S Roberto (39)
Barcelona vs Real Betis
Spanish La Liga
7:15pm Sunday 20th August
WATCH: BARCELONA 2-0 REAL BETIS
Watch the highlights here...
WATCH: MESSI HITS POST THREE TIMES
It proved unlucky 13 for Lionel Messi as he hit the post three times to end a run of 12 straight home matches in La Liga with a goal.
BARCA UP AND RUNNING
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BARCELONA 2-0 BETIS
Not one to live long in the memory. A good win for Barca but not one that will make all the questions surrounding the club go away, not by a long shot. Two neat goals in the first half and Messi found the woodwork not once but three times, but there wasn't really enough resistance from the visitors to offer much of a metric for where Barca are at.
Betis started with a bit of enterprise but once they'd conceded two in two minutes late in the first half all their ambition evaporated. They probably deserved a bigger hiding in truth.
One down, 37 to go.
92: That was the moment of magic we've been waiting for from Messi. The skipper slaloms through the defence with consummate ease and just when the Nou Camp was thinking it was going to see one of the great Messi goals Betis pry it from him and clear.
90: YELLOW. Digne takes out Guardado and goes in the book.
87: We haven't been able to gleam too much from tonight in terms of where Barca are at. It's been all doom and gloom since the Bernebeu defeat on Wednesday and this has been a fairly routine win but Betis haven't brought much to the table. Barca haven't had to do much more than hold onto the ball and wait for the gaps to open up and no-one in red and blue has had to play out of his skin to affect the game.
Meanwhile Ruiz has a chance 18 yards out to do something about the arrears but somehow you just knew it wasn't going anywhere near the goal. Betis could go on all night and not get one on target is how it feels.
86: CHANGE. Alba is off for Barca, replaced by Lucas Digne
83: Vidal goes on the chase down the right flank but just can't get on the end of Mascherano's long ball.
Messi is looking a little disillusioned out there but that is most likely because of the three fine strikes he's seen come back of the woodwork.
78: CHANGE. Denis Suarez is on for Barca.
Barca have reverted to type, keeping hold of the ball inside the Betis half and moving it around whilst the opposition chase.
And as is now becoming customary in this game, Lionel Messi hits the post. This was the most lethal strike of the three, but still just that one goal to show for it.
77: Semedo has really covered some ground on his La Liga debut. The new man at full back signed from Benfica races away down the right again and his low cross is cut out by Mandi for Betis. Good pace and delivery from Semedo who looks like he could make a difference for Barca down that right flank this season.
74: CHANCE! Messi dances free in midfield - again, he's playing very deep tonight - and tees up a the substitute Vidal but the new man can't get it under control and Adan is out at his feet to block.
Good goalkeeping but you feel that if the roles had been reversed between Messi and Vidal it would have been 3-0.
73: Not counting the own goal from Tosca, all of Messi's chances tonight have been of his own design. Is there just just a possibility that the skipper is wondering who's going to set-up his goals without his usual strike partners?
BARCELONA 2-0 BETIS
71: CHANGE: Deulofeu, who has had a mixed night, makes way for Vidal.
Messi has another from a free kick but this time it whistle over the bar.
69: CHANCE! Sergio Roberto gives the ball away centrally to Nahuel but the Betis wide man lacks the composure to find the target with his strike. He had so much time there as well. That was their chance to reduce the areas and Nahuel has spurned it.
68: CHANGE. Javi Garcia, once of Real Madrid, is on for Navarez for Betis.
66: A bit of a scramble in the Betis box as Rakitic and Deuolfeu each try and wriggle through. Neither player could configure enough space for a strike on goal and in the end it was Semedo who hoisted a ball up into the box which is easily gathered by Adan.
65: Mascherano using all those years of experience to cut out a neat cross from Nahuel as Betis make a rare forage forward. If there's a more graceful central defender in Europe I haven't seen him.
62: YELLOW. Nahuel dives in on Sergio Roberto and goes in the book. It was a clumsy challenge.
61: POST! Messi hits the woodwork for a second time. Left foot again, neat low drive which flashes against the face of Adan's post as he dives.
58: Jordi Alba races forward with real purpose and his ball to Messi isn't bad. The Barca skipper takes over but again there are bodies back from Betis. They're packing the defence the visitors which doesn't seem a bad shout given when they're up against. They need to decide whether they want to make a go of coming aback into the game soon though.
56: Messi tries to scamper into the box but Betis have enough men back to see that there's no way through. They're in command Barcelona.
54: Betis look to build some possession in the Barca half as Leon breaks down the left and brings the play with him. They're rewarded for their trepidation with a useful looking free kick 30 yards out.
Joaquin makes a hash of the ball into the box though and Barca make light work of clearing through Umtiti.
52: Umtiti is up to beat Leon to the ball. Only ever going to be one winner there.
51: YELLOW. Jordi Alba's in the book for going straight through the back of Nahuel.
50: Deulofeu and Messi seem to have developed a good early understanding at the beginning of this new season. They're always looking for one another when Barca break forward and invariably something looks like happening whenever they do.
Betis are holding quite a deep line in these first few minutes of the half. They'll be very aware that another goal past them will just about be the end of their chances tonight.
48: Messi slips in Deulofeu but the new man can't quite decide what he wants to do with it. A couple of step overs and an eventual crack at goal but it's turned away for a corner.
46: A reminder that Barca are operating tonight without Iniesta, Suarez and Pique and everything seems to be going pretty well to plan. That first half should certainly have gone some of the way towards dispelling the sense of doom that the Spanish press has been drumming up around the Nou Camp since Neymar departed.
45: Here we go for the second half
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WATCH: ROBERTO ADDS SECOND
Sergi Roberto added a quick-fire second for the hosts...
WATCH: BARCA'S FIRST
Here's the moment Barcelona took the lead...
On second look it certainly is an own goal from the Betis full back Tosca for Barca's opener but it shouldn't take anything away from Messi's contribution. The skipper did that thing he does where he is both the provider and then the man on the end of the final ball, freeing up Deulofeu and then putting enough pressure on Tosca to force the own goal.
The finish from Sergio Roberto, again from a set-up by Deulofeu, was pretty tidy too and it's hard to see how Betis, who to be fair to them were just starting to show some ambition prior to the opener, can start to dig themselves out of this one.
2-0 at the break.
43: Messi is playing quite deep here compared to what we've been used to in the past. Obviously it's all change up to for Barca following Neymar's departure and Suarez's injury but Mess is still managing to pull the strings.
41: What now then for Betis? In fairness to Leon it was a stunning last ditch tackle from Mascherano that dispossessed him as he went to shoot but talk about a game turning on a sixpence.
That was the sliding-doors moment for the visitors and fate just tipped away from them. It could be a long old night from here.
GOAL! BARCELONA 2-0 BETIS (Sergio Roberto, 38)
Astonishing. No sooner had Leon spurned a golden opportunity to equalise for Betis than it's two for Barca, Deulofeu picking it up wide again and laying it off sweetly for Sergio Roberto, unmarked, to crash it past Adan. Betis shell-shocked but they really, really should have levelled it up through Leon.
GOAL! BARCELONA 1-0 BETIS (Messi, 36)
Fifth time lucky for Messi, although it's not a hundred percent clear who got the final touch. Messi feeds Deulofeu down the right and the wide man returns the favour. The ball back in is clipped by Tosca but Messi looks like he's claiming it.
BARCELONA 0-0 BETIS
35: POST! Messi swings that left foot at a free kick twenty yards out it looks for all the world a goal as it glides over the wall, but it's the post that comes to Adan's rescue in the Betis goal.
That's four times now Messi has gone close. They're walking a tightrope the visitors.
BARCELONA 0-0 BETIS
34: Semedo is forward again and allows Deuolfeu to take over. The former Milan man puts in an inviting cross but Adan beats it away.
32: Centre back Feddal comes storming into midfield to win the ball and looks to set his team moving forward. He's then very casual about re-taking his position in the back four Feddal but it was quite exciting to see a defender burst forward like that for a moment.
30: Nahuel does his best Messi impression in gliding past Mascherano but there's enough cover to stop the Betis winger in his tracks. We haven't had too many chances in this opening half an hour but based on these last ten minutes the visitors look as likely as anyone to open the scoring.
28: Betis break and suddenly it's Leon going one on one up against Umtiti. The forward can't quite trick his way past the Barca centre back though and the ball is cleared.
27: Alcacer's touch is just letting him down. A nice ball in from Messi bounces off the forward man and goes straight back to Betis.
He needs to take these opportunities Alcacer in the absence of Suarez.
25: CLOSE! Messi collects it on the edge of the box and all the body language suggests the net is about to ripple but the low curling finish just kisses the outside of the post. That's three attempts now from Messi, each one getting closer. Betis have been warned.
23: Rakitic with a nice dinked ball to Semedo as Barca look to raise the tempo a little. The touches are there just as we'd expect but no penetration yet.
20: Umtiti goes back to Ter Stegen with nothing on up in front of him. They're being made to wait for an opening Barca by a very well organised Betis side. Not too much noise out there from the crowd either.
It's been 'intriguing' so far.
18: Deulofeu should do better here. He gets free inside the box, six yards out, but Mandi is back for Betis to make a block. It was good defending but Deulofeu shouldn't have given his man a sniff really.
15: Alba tries to release Alcacer but it's another offside call from that linesman down on the near side. Plenty of enterprsie from the full backs but they're going too early, which given the pace they each have hardly seems necessary.
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