Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona: Barca extend La Liga lead
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 22/01/18 8:38am
Barcelona thrashed Real Betis 5-0 at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday night to extend their lead at the top of La Liga to 11 points.
The visitors had to wait until just before the hour-mark to take the lead, but after Ivan Rakitic's strike, the floodgates opened in Andalucia.
Both Lionel Messi (64, 80) and Luis Suarez (69, 89) then scored two goals each to complete a comprehensive victory for Ernesto Valverde's team, who took advantage of Atletico Madrid's draw with Girona on Saturday to move further ahead at the top of the table.
Betis: Adan (6), Feddal (6), Durmisi (7), Mandi (6), Francis (6), Fabian (6), Guardado (6), Tello (7), Garcia (6), Leon (6), Joaquin (7)
Subs: Camarasa (6), Boudebouz (6), Castro (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Semedo (7), Pique (6), Alba (6), Vermaelen (6), Rakitic (7), Busquets (6), Roberto (7), Gomes (6), Suarez (8), Messi (9)
Subs: Umtiti (6), Paulinho (6), Deulofeu (6)
Man of the match: Lionel Messi
In a cagey and evenly contested first half, it was Betis who went the closest to opening the scoring after just three minutes when Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado flashed a low, left-footed shot inches past Marc-Andre ter Stegen's left-hand post.
The visitors - who lost centre-back Thomas Vermaelen to yet another hamstring injury just before half-time - dominated both possession and territory in the first 45 minutes.
However, the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was just past the half-hour mark when Suarez played a one-two with Sergi Roberto on the edge of the Betis area.
Having collected the Uruguay international's return pass, though, the midfielder blazed wastefully over the bar as the two sides went in on level terms at the interval.
It took Barca less than 15 minutes of the second period to finally go ahead as Suarez's brilliant defence-splitting pass sent Rakitic through on goal. Faced with just Antonio Adan, the blond-haired midfielder kept his cool to slip the ball under the advancing Betis 'keeper.
Five minutes later and Messi doubled Barcelona's lead after Fabian was dispossessed by Sergio Busquets midway through his own half. The Spain international then found the unmarked playmaker, who made no mistake with a rifled finish high into the roof of the net.
The hosts had defensive duo Zouhair Feddal and Aissa Mandi both available after suspension.
Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen all returned for Barca after being rested in midweek, but Ousmane Dembele missed out with injury.
Two soon became three as Suarez volleyed Rakitic's centre past a helpless Adan before the Uruguayan then turned provider to set up his strike partner for his second of the night with 10 minutes to go.
And it was that man Suarez who rounded off the scoring in the last minute with an emphatic finish after being set up by Messi, the forward's 12th goal in his last nine games.
Man of the Match - Lionel Messi
After a quiet first half, the Argentine really turned it on after the break, scoring twice and creating another for Suarez.
As a result, Messi is the only La Liga player to score 25 or more goals in each of the last 10 seasons in all competitions.
And his all-round brilliance was perhaps best summed up by the applause he received from the home fans after one piece of mesmeric skill saw him beat three Betis players in a tight space in the second half.
Betis travel to Celta Vigo a week on Monday in a La Liga game you can see live on Sky Sports Football.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night Barca host city rivals Espanyol in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit against their city rivals. The Catalans then entertain Alaves at the Nou Camp in La Liga on Sunday night, a match you can see live on Sky Sports Football.