Monday, February 6, 2023

Real Betis 2-2 Barcelona (aet, 2-4 pens): Ter Stegen the hero as Blaugrana set up Clasico final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 Jan 2023

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Barcelona set up an El Clasico clash with Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final after beating Real Betis 4-2 on penalties following a 2-2 draw at the King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday.

Goals from Robert Lewandowski and Nabil Fekir sent the game to extra time in Riyadh, before a wonderstrike from Ansu Fati was cancelled out by Loren Moron’s cheeky backheel to force a penalty shoot-out.

Juanmi and William Carvalho saw their spot-kicks saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, allowing Pedri to clinch progress to the final.

Barca will now face Madrid on Sunday for the first time in the competition since it changed to a four-team format in 2019-20.

Xavi’s side were denied a 23rd-minute opener when Raphinha was judged to have been fractionally offside before he crossed for Pedri to finish.

There was no denying them just before half-time though.

Ousmane Dembele dribbled past Aitor Ruibal on the left and fed Lewandowski, who scored after his first effort was blocked by Luiz Felipe.

The second half was largely without incident until the 77th minute when Luiz Henrique sold Ferran Torres a dummy on the edge of the box before teeing up Fekir to beat Ter Stegen at his near post.

Lewandowski thought he had a second shortly after, only for Barca to be denied again as Torres was offside in the build-up.

They did restore the lead two minutes into extra time, Fati volleying into the bottom-right corner from just outside the box.

But back came Betis, the lively Luiz Henrique squaring to Loren, whose backheeled effort from close range deflected in off Ronald Araujo.

Betis substitute Andres Guardado was sent off for two bookings before the game went to penalties, which were decided by Ter Stegen saving twice down to his right and Pedri wrapping things up.

What does it mean? Barca get the job done despite leaking chances

It was an open game in Saudi Arabia, with a similar feeling to Wednesday’s contest between Real Madrid and Valencia as the favourites had to rely on penalties to get the job done.

Betis gave Barca a thorough examination and had 15 shots to their opponents’ 12, also getting more on target (seven to six) to keep Ter Stegen busy.

It ended up being a win for Xavi’s men, but Manuel Pellegrini can take plenty of solace in the performance of his team.

Ansu Fati shows immense promise again

The 20-year-old has had more than his fair share of injuries in the last two years, but he is still able to come back and show his quality time and again.

Despite only coming on in the 86th minute, Fati had as many shots as any other Barca player (four) and was the only one to hit the target more than once for his team (three), one of which was his gorgeous goal.

Busquets makes 700th appearance

Just after the hour in Riyadh, Sergio Busquets came off the bench to take the captain’s armband and applause of the crowd as he made his 700th appearance for Barcelona.

The 34-year-old was brought on to shore up the midfield, and did just that, with no Barca player winning as many as his three tackles or making more than his two interceptions, while only Lewandowski (seven) – who played the whole game – won more duels than his five.

What’s next?

Saudi Arabia finally has what it wanted: El Clasico. Barca and Madrid will tussle in the Supercopa final on Sunday.

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SoccerNews

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