Barcelona secured a late but vital three points away to Real Betis in a five-goal thriller on Sunday night, putting them joint-second in La Liga alongside Real Madrid.
Ronald Koeman’s side dominated possession in the first half before being caught out after 38 minutes when Borja Iglesias finished off a counter attack. For all their dominance, La Blaugrana went into half-time trailing.
It was Los Verdiblancos who again looked more lively after the break but Lionel Messi equalised as an impact substitute after 59 minutes, before slipping through Jordi Alba whose cross was enough to force an own goal 11 minutes later.
They lapsed again, however, and Betis drew level when Victor Ruiz headed home from a free kick after 75 minutes. The game opened up in the closing stages as a result, but it was Barcelona who capitalised when Francisco Trincao curled home a winner with three minutes remaining.
Here’s how Koeman’s side rated in the thriller.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 5/10 – The German could do little to stop the opener from Real Betis, but could’ve perhaps done more to attack the free kick that resulted in the equaliser.
Oscar Mingueza (RB) – 5/10 – Struggled to deal with Betis’ advances when isolated at times, but moved the ball well in attack and fizzed some seriously attractive low crosses across goal.
Ronald Araujo (CB) – N/A – The Uruguayan was forced off injured before ten minutes had even been played and looked in some discomfort. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 6/10 – Positioned himself well throughout and did well to take charge of his 18-yard box, but did miss a completely free header in the first half that could – and should – have given his side the lead.
Jordi Alba (LB) – 6/10 – Alba wasn’t out quick enough to close down the cross from Emerson in the run up to the opener. But his attacking contributions made up for it; his overlap down the left flank was continuous and eventually key in pulling his side ahead for the first time.
Sergio Busquets (CM) – 4/10 – Busquets sat at the base of the midfield and tracked back well, but was too slow to dominate in any way. Conceded the free kick that resulted in Betis’ equaliser and was outmuscled in the box for the header.
Miralem Pjanic (CM) – 4/10 – Pjanic was far too casual in possession as a whole. It was Barcelona’s lethargic performance in midfield that stopped them from breaking down Betis before the changes were made.
Riqui Puig (CM) – 6/10 – The youngster was keen to make an impact on his first league start this season, but struggled with Busquets and Pjanic keeping the tempo slow. Swallowed up and hooked for Messi around the hour mark.
Ousmane Dembele (RW) – 8/10 – Dembele did well to cause problems for the opposition defence with a few examples of tight dribbling and sharp, one-touch passing. He struggled to find an outlet before Messi’s introduction, where he used that dribbling to produce a fine assist.
Martin Braithwaite (ST) – 4/10 – Very disappointing 45 minutes from Braithwaite who was hooked at half-time following an incredibly quiet first half.
Antoine Griezmann (LW) – 7/10 – Griezmann looked much better when given freedom to roam following Braithwaite’s substitution and linked up well with his more technical colleagues. Unfortunate not to score his side’s second, having touched Alba’s cross onto the defender for the own goal.
Frenkie de Jong – 5/10 – Thrown on early to replace Araujo at centre-back, but could’ve been positioned better to defend and stop the opener from Betis. Difficult for the Dutchman to truly impact the game from such a deep position.
Lionel Messi – 9/10 – The magic man had to do the business from the bench in this one, but did he struggle? Of course not. The Argentine picked up the ball on the edge of the box and fired home the equaliser with the space afforded to him.
Francisco Trincao – 9/10 – The 21-year-old perked up when it mattered most, stealing the ball on the edge of the box and curling it home effortlessly into the far corner to win the game for Barcelona. Ice in his veins.
Pedri – 6/10
Samuel Umtiti – N/A