Barcelona extended their lead in La Liga to eight points after Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski scored to secure a 2-1 win over Real Betis on Wednesday.
Barca lead the table on 50 points, eight points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, with a game in hand, and host struggling Valencia on Thursday. Betis is in sixth place and has 31 points.
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Coach Xavi Hernandez was delighted with the success of his LaLiga leaders, whose mid-season points tally is on course to beat the single-season record of 100 shared by the Catalans and Real Madrid.
“I think we played well,” Xavi said after the game. “I would say we were good in many stages of the game, we can judge Ansu’s game [Fati’s] They lead 3-0 but it was a very good performance. I’m really happy with the resulting performance.
“We took the ball away from a team that had a lot, we improved a lot [Saturday’s win] in Girona.”
Barcelona dominated the game on a cold night in Sevilla, but were thwarted by goalkeeper Rui Silva who made three good saves to deny Pedri.
Betis had the opportunity to counter-attack and almost hit the net through Borja Iglesias and Sergio Canales who were blocked by goalkeeper Jules Kounde.
It took 65 minutes for Barcelona to break the deadlock as Raphinha found the back of the net before Lewandowski, returning from a three-match ban, scored 15 minutes later.
“The feeling is good, we are working really hard, the results and the points are the result,” Raphinha said. “We knew that this match was going to be a difficult match. Betis is really good. We knew that we had to create opportunities so that we wouldn’t suffer later on.”
The defender of the Barcelona team, Jules Kounde, scored an own goal in the 85th minute of the game by trying to clear the ball from Youssouf Sabaly, but the visiting team stopped the goal to get the three points.
Betis’ William Carvalho was shown a red card after the final whistle for complaining to the referee, a common theme throughout the match as the home team felt many calls to support them.
“Barca games are always like this,” Iglesias said. It’s hard to get the ball, they can put you back in your half, until their goal we were good, there was another game if they deserve it.”