Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis: Lionel Messi hits woodwork three times in La Liga opener
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 21/08/17 6:10am
Barcelona ended a difficult week by dispatching Real Betis 2-0 at the Nou Camp in their La Liga opener on Sunday.
An own goal from Betis full-back Alin Tosca followed two minutes later by a neat finish from Sergi Roberto were enough to dispatch an unambitious Betis side, who failed to register a shot on target.
Betis forward Sergio Leon spurned a golden chance to equalise just seconds after Barca had taken the lead, Javier Mascherano making a crucial last-ditch tackle after the Betis man had been played clean through.
It was a comfortable evening for Barca though, such was the feeble resistance offered by the visitors, and it will have done little to alter the mood around the club following the departure of Neymar to PSG, the 5-1 defeat suffered to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup and most importantly, the city's sadness following the terror attacks earlier this week.
Barca were in control throughout and almost took the lead on 35 minutes when Messi cracked a bending free-kick off the post beyond the dive of Betis 'keeper Antonio Adan.
Minutes later though, Barca were in front, Messi feeding Gerard Deulofeu, who was making his first La Liga appearance since rejoining the club from Milan. The former Everton star's ball into the box was turned past his own 'keeper by Tosca as Messi challenged.
Barca began with Messi up front alongside Alcacer and Deulofeu, with Suarez out injured.
Betis should have been level within seconds when Leon looked to have got in behind the Barca defence, only to dwell on his shot allowing Mascherano to rescue his team with a fine saving tackle.
And the striker was left to rue his profligacy when Deulofeu teed up Sergi Roberto to slot past Adan to put Barca in command.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Semedo (8), Rakitic (7), Sergio (7), Messi (8), Mascherano (8), Deulofeu (6), Alcácer (6), Alba (6), S. Roberto (7), Umtiti (7)
Subs: Suarez (6), Digne (5), Vidal (6)
Real Betis: Adan (7), Barragan (6), Mandi (7), Feddal (7), Tosca (5), Guardado (6), Camarasa (7), Narvaez (6), Joaquin (6), Nahuel (5), Sergio Leon (6)
Subs: Ruiz (6), Guerrero (6), Garcia (7)
Man of the match: Nelson Semedo
Messi struck the woodwork twice more after the break, the second of which was a delicious bending shot which smacked against the face of Adan's post after an enterprising run.
Leon and winger Matias Nahuel each wasted chances to cut the deficit for the visitors late on, but Barca will need to pass sterner tests than this to prove that they are up to the challenge of winning back their La Liga crown.