Tuesday 17 September 2019

Messi back but Betis see off Barca at Nou Camp

Lionel Messi prepares to shoot a penalty kick. Photo: AFP/Getty
Lionel Messi prepares to shoot a penalty kick. Photo: AFP/Getty

Jamie Holland

Barcelona suffered a first home defeat in any competition for more than two years when they were beaten 4-3 by Real Betis at the Nou Camp yesterday despite Lionel Messi returning from injury, while Ivan Rakitic was sent off for the Catalans.

Messi scored twice but it was too late to reel in an impressive Betis side.

"The problem was that we did not play well, we did not control the game and we kept on making mistakes which is why we were behind at half-time," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

"In the second half every time we scored and got back in the game they struck back immediately."

Their last home defeat was at the hands of Alaves in September 2016.

They remain in pole position but the loss has allowed the chasing pack to close the gap, with both Atletico Madrid, Alaves and Sevilla enjoying home victories against Athletic Bilbao, Huesca and Espanyol respectively.

Rejuvenation

Real Madrid's Santiago Solari rejuvenation continued with a 4-2 thumping of Celta Vigo.

Juventus bounced back from their midweek defeat to Manchester United by beating AC Milan 2-0 in the San Siro, thanks to goals from Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo while Milan's former Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain needed to be led off the pitch after reacting furiously to being sent off.

Bayern Munich's woes continued and the pressure continues to be heaped on manager Niko Kovac. They threw away a lead twice against league leaders Borussia Dortmund before finally succumbing to a 73rd-minute Paco Alcacer winner.

That result paired with RB Leipzig's 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as well as Eintracht Frankfurt's victory over Schalke 04 by the same margin yesterday pushes Bayern down to fifth in the Bundesliga, seven points adrift of Dortmund.

In France's Ligue 1, Edinson Cavani's hat-trick and a penalty from Neymar secured a 4-0 victory for PSG over Thierry Henry's Monaco.

Further afield, the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors finished 2-2.

They do battle again on Saturday, November 24.

Irish Independent

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