Barcelona secure gritty win at Betis to extend lead


FC Barcelona opened up an eight-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win away to Betis on Wednesday night.

The match was postponed from early January due to both sides playing in the Spanish Super Cup.

Xavi Hernandez’s side controlled the first half of the game and had the best chances, although Raphinha’s header was correctly ruled out for offside and the impressive Pedri was twice denied by Betis keeper Rui Silva.

Barca’s defense, which included Alejandro Balde at left back and Jules Kounde on the right, with Andreas Christensen and Ronald Araujo in central defense, dealt with everything Betis threw at them with few problems.

A quickly taken free kick allowed Balde to cross to the far post, where Raphinha only had to push home at the far post to break the deadlock in the 65th minute.

Robert Lewandowski, who was back after a three-game suspension, added a second with a typical poacher’s goal when the ball fell kindly for him following a corner 10 minutes from time.

Kounde gave Betis a lifeline when he chested the ball into his own net five minutes later, but Barca’s solid defense held firm with few problems to close out the win.

Real Madrid entertain Valencia on Thursday in a match that was also postponed due to the Super Cup.

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