- Real Betis played host to La Liga leaders Barcelona on Wednesday, February 1 2023
- Barcelona needed a win to cement their position at the top of the La Liga table
- Goals from Raphinha and Lewandowski sealed all the points for Barcelona to go eight points at the summit
Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski’s goals helped Barcelona defeat Real Betis 2-1 at Estadio Benito Villamarin to extend their lead atop La Liga to eight points.
On Wednesday, Betis, who are also trying to qualify for the Champions League, held the league’s top team at bay for more than an hour while Manuel Pellegrini’s team played staunch defence, and Pedri missed two decent opportunities.
Raphinha, however, blocked an amazing Alejandro Balde delivery, and Lewandowski’s goal from a corner put Xavi’s team in front.
A tense conclusion was made possible by Jules Kounde’s late own goal, but Barca hung on to increase the pressure on Real Madrid ahead of their match against Valencia on Thursday.
As Betis edged a rough opening, Luiz Henrique’s shot nearly missed the target, and after 33 minutes, Raphinha’s attempt to nod in Frenkie de Jong’s enticing cross was thwarted by the offside flag.
Prior to the break, Barcelona played better, but Rui Silva made a fantastic save to keep Pedri from scoring after a fortunate deflection.
Within three minutes of the resumption, after being set up by Balde’s cut-back, Pedri forced Silva into another reflex save, and it wasn’t until 65 minutes into the game that Barca eventually broke through.
Balde was involved once again with a driving run down the left after a quick free-kick, teeing up Raphinha for a tap-in with a powerful low cross.
Lewandowski – playing his first league game of 2023 after serving a three-match ban – doubled Barca’s lead with 10 minutes left, swivelling to find the bottom-left corner after Ronald Araujo’s flick-on.
Betis ensured a tense finish when Kounde bizarrely netted at the wrong end with five minutes remaining, but Barca held on for their fourth successive league win.
Barcelona will be in action again on Sunday, February 5, when they host Sevilla at Camp Nou in the La Liga. Real Betis on their side will look to bounce back when they host Celta Vigo a day before at the Benito Villamarin.