Raphinha scored one goal and assisted another as Barcelona restored their 11-point lead at the LaLiga summit with a comfortable 4-0 victory over 10-man Real Betis.
Real Madrid cut the gap at the top to eight points with a 4-2 victory over Almeria before Saturday’s kick-off at Camp Nou, but Barca reclaimed their significant advantage in style.
Andreas Christensen’s early header from Raphinha’s delightful cross set the Blaugrana on their way before Robert Lewandowski struck after a mindless first-half dismissal for Betis substitute Edgar Gonzalez.
Raphinha added a third goal soon after, before a Guido Rodriguez own goal sealed a dominant victory for Barca, who introduced 15-year-old debutant Lamine Yamal in the closing stages.
Max AC pic.twitter.com/er9hQdseAp
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 29, 2023
Barca raced into the ascendancy after 14 minutes when Raphinha delivered a pinpoint right-wing cross for Christensen, who headed down past the helpless Rui Silva from close range.
A needless Gonzalez foul on Pedri then saw the Betis defender, brought on for the injured Luiz Felipe, dismissed for two quickfire cautions in the 33rd minute.
Lewandowski capitalised just three minutes later when firing a right-footed strike into the bottom-left corner from Jules Kounde’s low cross.
Raphinha inflicted further damage by smashing past the onrushing Silva following Sergio Busquets’ disguised throughball, with the goal given after the VAR overturned an on-field offside decision.
Lewandowski rattled the right post when one-on-one with Silva after the break but Betis suffered further punishment when Rodriguez turned Ansu Fati’s low cross into his own net.
Xavi took the opportunity to hand teenager Yamal his debut as Barca eased to victory.
What does it mean? Barca get back on track as title awaits
With just one win in their past five games in all competitions, Barca appeared to be stumbling – rather than cruising – to their first title of the post-Lionel Messi era.
Yet Xavi’s side got back on track with their eighth win in nine league games against Betis, maintaining their unbeaten record at Camp Nou this season in LaLiga (W13 D3).
Bayern Munich and Union Berlin are the only other two clubs to boast such unbeaten runs across Europe’s top five leagues this term, with Barca’s home form proving the difference in their quest for the title.
Raphinha seemed simply unplayable at times as left-back Juan Miranda and the Betis defence were unable to cope with the Brazil winger on the right-hand side.
The Barca attacker’s glorious cross for Christensen took his assists tally to 11 for the season, as many as Neymar managed in his first Blaugrana campaign in the 2013-14 term.
11 – Last three players with the most assists in their first season at Barcelona in all competitions:
Neymar Jr – 11 in 2013/14.
Luis Suárez – 21 in 2014/15
RAPHINHA – 11 in 2022/23
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 29, 2023
Manuel Pellegrini must be wondering what he must do to defeat Barca, the Betis coach losing 13 of his past 14 games in LaLiga against the Blaugrana.
Pellegrini will still have European hopes for Betis this term, with his side in sixth – three points clear of the chasing pack and Europa Conference League qualification.
Barca host Osasuna on Tuesday, while Betis visit Athletic Bilbao two days later.
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