Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Barcelona concede four at home for first time since 2003

DEMBELE DEMBELE
Jennie Wade | 12 November, 2018, 16:14

Lionel Messi scored twice on his return to action following a broken arm but could not stop Barcelona suffering a surprise defeat at home to Real Betis.

Giovani Lo Celso, helped by an uncharacteristic mistake from Ter-Stegen, and Sergio Canales also got on the scoresheet, meaning that a brace from Messi and another from Arturo Vidal wasn't enough to earn Barcelona a point.

- Barcelona have lost a LaLiga home game for the first time since September 2016 against Alaves (1-2), 792 days ago. Firpo's pull back evaded everyone before Joaquin was on hand to finish off.

The Béticos however finished the first half of the clash with a two-goal advantage heading to the dugout for the break.

Barca have dropped points in five of their 12 games this season, four times against sides in the bottom half of the standings but Pique said fans should not be concerned by the team's form.

"I am very happy where I find myself", he replied.

"It's true that we are finding it harder to beat teams who, in theory, are smaller than us but I think it's something sporadic and won't happen throughout the season", he said.

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Betis seemed faster, sharper and hungrier while Barcelona's midfield was repeatedly carved open on the break.

It took five passes for the opener, the last a first-time drive from William Carvalho to free Junior down the left. He weaved inside Sergi Roberto and struck hard into the net.

Betis had squandered several chances before Junior broke the deadlock although it took an outstanding save from visiting goalkeeper Pau Lopez, formerly of Barca's neighbours Espanyol, to prevent Clement Lenglet from levelling before Joaquin made it 2-0. His cute cut-back picked out Joaquin, who stabbed in Betis' second. Ter Stegen denied Cristian Tello with his legs.

Vidal replaced the jaded Arthur Melo at half-time and shot within a minute of the restart.

Messi briefly rekindled the comeback in the 79th when he threaded a pass forward for substitute Munir El Haddadi, who laid off for Vidal to reduce the deficit to 3-2.

Ivan Rakitic was sent off for the Catalans in a calamitous defensive showing. Brais Mendez scored a second for Celta in injury-time.

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