A ferocious atmosphere at Benito Villamarín was matched by the pace of the game from the first whistle. Within six minutes of the start, Clément Lenglet was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area, with Canales dispatching the resulting spot-kick for Betis (0-1).
Three minutes later, a wonderful pass from Leo Messi found Frenkie de Jong unmarked in the area. The Dutchman’s immaculate chest control allowed him to smash home an equaliser to silence the stadium.
As things settled down, it was Barça that started to play the better football, with the hallmark of Quique Setién clearly seen in those passages of play. However, on 26 minutes, Nabil Fekir’s direct running caused problems for the blaugrana defence and his low drive restored the hosts lead.
Heading into half-time, Barça were denied what looked like a penalty of their own as they sought to get back on terms again, before Sergio Busquets slid home a second equaliser in first-half injury time from a Messi free-kick.
Joel Robles had to be at full length to deny Messi within a couple of minutes of the restart as the blaugranes played on the front foot once more, and he did so again just after the hour mark.
On 66, the Argentinian almost scored a carbon copy of his incredible chipped goal at this stadium last season, before supplying his third assist of the match for Lenglet to powerfully head home with 17 minutes to play.
Fekir’s late challenge on Lenglet earned him a yellow card and his dissent got him an immediate second yellow. The subsequent red card handed Barça a man advantage, but within two minutes Lenglet would himself be sent off.
Barça controlled the game thereafter to head back to Catalonia with an important three points.