Leaders get their eighth straight win on the road and in all their 14th of the season
Messi put Barça ahead with two early goals to beat Müller’s record
Betis pulled a goal back before the break and hit the post three times in the second half
Messi and Jordi Alba also hit the woodwork
Barça continue to chalk up the wins and led by Leo Messi - whose two goals tonight took him past Müller’s record for goals in a calendar year – they came away with another hard fought three points at the Benito Villamarin tonight. Betis went toe to toe with Vilanova’s men and very nearly came back with a brave performance after going down 0-2 within the first half hour. Ruben Castro got one back before the break and the hosts saw three posts deny them an equaliser, before Barça themselves - through Messi and Alba - were thwarted by the woodwork.
This was Barça’s eighth away win on the trot and their fourteenth in all so far this season, as they continue to dominate La Liga, sitting six points clear at the top of the table with a midweek Cup game in Cordoba to be played ahead of next weekend’s game against second place Atletico Madrid.
It wasn’t all positives for Barça at the start of the game, as Cesc was forced off with a muscle injury on 9 minutes to be replaced by Alexis, which meant Iniesta moved back into midfield, whilst the Chilean sat out on the left flank. It was a fast start to the match with both teams applying pressure high up the pitch and forcing both teams to go for a fast and precise game – something that perfectly suited Barça’s style.
Messi breaks another record
There weren’t many clear chances, for the visitors, but when they came, they were clinically put away. First, Messi drove into the Betis box for a lovely individual strike and then 10 minutes later a clever back heel from Iniesta set up the Argentinean for his second of the night - a goal that took him past Gerd Müller’s record for goals in a single calendar year. Between those two goals, Iniiesta himself came close with a cheeky chip.
The two goal cushion didn’t last out the half though, as Ruben Castro latched onto a Vadillo assist to make it 1-2 just before the break.
Game opens up
Betis were in charge for the first 15 minutes of the second half, as they pushed forward and nearly grabbed the equaliser when Valdes was unable to hold a cross from the left and the ball came back off the bar. The game was opening up now, though Barça did manage to impose some control on things. The equaliser looked likely to come and Cañas saw an effort hit the post from a corner, before immediately after at the other end, Pedro had a great chance to make it 1-3.
Three more posts
There was no let up in the action as Pozuelo struck a shot against the upright with ten minutes to go, before Messi was denied a hat trick after Adrian turned his shot aside onto the Betis post and Alba then hit the rebound against the woodwork in a thrilling end to another Barça win on the road.