Apr 5, 2014 at 5pm UK at ​Camp Nou
Barcelona
3-1
Real Betis
Messi (15' pen., 86'), Figueras (67' og.)
FT(HT: 1-0)
Castro (68')
Reyes (60'), Amaya (77')

Live Commentary: Barcelona 3-1 Real Betis - as it happened

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Almeria at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 2, 2014
© Getty Images
Relive with Sports Mole all the action from the crucial La Liga clash between Barcelona and Real Betis at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona and Real Betis met in their crucial La Liga clash at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Both sides were in dire need of a win as Gerardo Martino's team had to close the gap at the top of the table on Atletico Madrid, while the visitors required three points in their battle against the drop.

It was Barcelona who secured a 3-1 victory even though they weren't at their best, as a brace from Lionel Messi and an own goal from Jordi Figueras decided the match and put them a point behind Atletico at the top.

Read below to see how all the action unfolded.


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4.30pmGood afternoon and welcome to the live commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and Real Betis.

4.32pmWe're entering the crunch time in the season for Barcelona as they hunt for the La Liga title. At the moment they trail leaders Atletico Madrid by one point, but Los Rojiblancos are currently beating Villarreal which would extend their lead to four points. A win this afternoon is a must for Gerardo Martino's side.

4.35pmThe Catalan club are in excellent form coming into today's game against rock bottom Betis as they have won their last four games and are fresh off their 1-1 draw with Atletico in the Champions League in midweek. They'll need to keep up that up if they are to keep the pressure on at the top.

4.38pmThe team news is in so we'll start with the home side.

4.40pmBARCELONA STARTING XI: Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Pedro.

4.42pmREAL BETIS STARTING XI: Adan, Juanfran, Amaya, Jordi, Juan Carlos, N'Diaye, Lolo Reyes, Nono, Cedrick, Vadillo, Baptistao.

4.45pmMartino has made four changes to his side from their 1-1 draw in the quarter final of the Champions League in midweek. Gerard Pique is injured so is replaced in the lineup by Marc Bartra while Jordi Alba is suspended so Adriano slots in at left back. Up front Alexis Sanchez and Pedro replace Cesc Fabregas and Neymar either side of Lionel Messi.

4.46pmBetis have gone with a defensive lineup for the game. Leo Baptistao leads their line as they only attacker in front of a five-man midfield at the Camp Nou. Gabriel Calderon seems to be taking the approach that a point would be an excellent result and it's hard to argue with him.

4.50pmUPDATE! Atletico have held out to win 1-0 against Villarreal and that extends the gap to four points over Barca for now. A win today is a must for the home side.

4.52pmThat result is huge for Atletico and now Barcelona will have to react. How costly that defeat to Real Valladolid last month is looking for Martino's side now.

4.55pmThe players are out on the pitch and we should be underway shortly.

1 minKICKOFF! We're underway in this crucial La Liga matchup.

2 minBarcelona are into their early passing rhythm as Iniesta is raiding forward, but as soon as they get into the final third of the pitch the Betis defence manages to hold them and force them back with a pass to Bartra.

4 minBetis make a surge forward and the ball is hit over the top to Vadillo who tries to bring the ball down in the area. Mascherano gets across in time to make a good block and force the ball out for a corner.

5 minThe corner comes in from the left for the visitors but Barcelona manage to clear their lines. Decent start for Betis but you have to feel the hosts will get into a better rhythm soon.

7 minIniesta tries to raid forward again and he gets to the edge of the area before he exchanges passes with Sanchez. The return ball from the forward isn't the best and allows Jordi to nip in with the challenge.

9 minA good start to the game for Iniesta as he lifts the ball over the top of Juan Carlos and Sanchez is in behind, but the left-back recovers to knock the ball out for a corner.

10 minCHANCE! From the resulting corner the ball comes in from the right and Bartra gets to the ball first at the near post and under pressure from Adan he heads the ball over the bar.

11 minCHANCE! Barcelona come within inches of taking the lead as Adriano advanced into the final third of the pitch and fired a ball across the face of goal where Xavi struck an effort. His shot looked to find the corner but Adan stuck out a hand and turned the ball away.

13 minPENALTY TO BARCELONA!

13 minBarcelona earn a penalty as Sanchez goes down in the area as he was tripped by Jordi following a mazy. Messi has the chance to hand his side an early lead.

14 minGOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Real Betis (Messi)

14 minMessi hands Barcelona the lead with a cool penalty as he fires the ball down the middle of goal, leaving Adan with no chance as he went to his right.

16 minBetis have responded well to the goal from Messi and are seeing quite a bit of the ball down the right with Juanfran. They are yet to test Pinto in the Barcelona goal despite their confidence in their passing game.

18 minCHANCE! A ball through the middle finds Mabwati for the visitors and he gets the wrong side of Mascherano and through on Pinto. His effort at goal with his left foot is weak and the keeper is able to make the save low down to his left. That was a chance for the visitors and Mabwati seemed to lose his footing at the crucial moment.

20 minCHANCE! Barcelona should be two goals ahead as Sanchez and Alves somehow miss the ball from two yards out. Adriano again raided down the left and found himself in plenty of space. He drilled a low ball across the face of goal, but Sanchez and then Alves couldn't turn it in at the back post.

23 minBarcelona aren't quite in full gear yet. Their passing in and around the box isn't sharp as it can be as Xavi missed the chance to thread Adriano in behind as the pair weren't on the same wavelength. On the other flank Alves and Sanchez missed out on an overlap opportunity with Betis outnumbered at the back.

25 minBetis have shown plenty of spirit in the opening 25 minutes, but will need to be sharper in front of goal. In their last opportunity Baptistao released Vadillo down the left and he took a nice touch to get past Alves, but his shot was tame and straight at Pinto.

27 minThe ball is following Vadillo at the moment and he will want to forget his last touch, as after several passes were exchanged outside the box the ball looped up to him and he volleyed well over from 25 yards. His effort went straight into the crowd and his teammates didn't look impressed following impressive passing during the build-up.

30 minBarcelona are not quite clicking in the final third today. Messi showed great skill to beat a couple of challenges to find space to release Iniesta. The midfielder looked to return the ball over the top but again they were not on the same page and that allowed Betis to clear.

31 minBetter from the home side and it comes down the left as Adriano feeds Pedro, who in turn finds Xavi who strikes the ball but his effort is well blocked by Amaya and diverted behind for a corner.

33 minBetis do well to clear the danger from the corner but a good ball down the flank from Alves gets Messi in behind and he takes three men with him to the byline. He looks up and tries to find Pedro in the box, but Amaya gets a boot the ball and hoof it clear.

35 minBarcelona are doing all the pressing at the moment as they are upping the ante. Adriano gets the ball down the left yet again but instead of driving down the outside he goes for goal and his effort is deflected by Amaya and it goes inches over the bar.

37 minBaptistao finds space for the visitors beyond the Barcelona backline and has a clear run at goal from the half-way line. However, Busquets gets back at him just in time to make the challenge and win the ball. Replays suggest he got all of the striker and none of the ball, but there was little complaint from Baptistao.

41 minCHANCE! Messi has the ball at his feet as a loose ball breaks to him 20 yards from goal. He takes a touch onto his left foot on the edge of the area and fires an effort at goal, but his shot goes agonisingly wide of the post. That was so close from Messi and completely out of nothing.

43 minCHANCE! Betis win a corner down the left and Barcelona can't clear their lines as the ball falls to N'Diaye in the area. He lines up an effort but Mascherano is there to make an important block before his shot can trouble Pinto. It's been far from comfortable this afternoon for the home side.

45 minHALF-TIME: Barcelona 1-0 Real Betis

5.50pmHalf time in the Camp Nou and Barcelona hold a narrow lead over Real Betis. The home side have been far from their best and haven't really clicked into gear in the final third of the pitch. Messi did hand them the lead from the penalty spot after Sanchez was hauled down by Jordi in the 14th minute, but those quality attacking moments from Martino's side have been few and far between.

5.52pmBetis have had their moments in the game as well. Mabwati had a decent opportunity early on when he was played through the middle but fired a weak shot at Pinto, while N'Diaye's close-range effort was blocked well by Mascherano. The visitors have worked the ball nicely around the pitch when they have had the ball, but will need to improve in the final third to get something out of this game.

5.55pmBarcelona are doing what they need to do to close the gap to one point again to Atletico at the top. I doubt Martino will mind how the three points come as long as they get them this afternoon in the Camp Nou.

6.01pmThe players are back on the pitch and we should be underway for the second half shortly.

46 minWe're back underway in this La Liga clash.

47 minEarly chance in the second half for Betis to threaten as they win a free kick as Baptistao goes down. Juan Carlos delivers the ball into the box but Bartra heads the ball clear with ease. A wasted opportunity for the visitors.

49 minBarcelona are quickly into a rhythm in the second half and are knocking the ball around with ease on the edge of the Betis area. Alves wins a free kick 20 yards from goal and Xavi stands over the ball with a great chance to double the hosts' lead.

50 minOFF THE BAR! Xavi comes within inches again of doubling his side's leas as he strikes the free kick over the wall and with Adan beating it clips the top of the bar and goes over. That was so close for the Spaniard.

52 minAnother chance for the visitors to put Barcelona under pressure with a free kick down the left. However, the delivery from Juan Carlos is poor and goes straight out for a goal kick. These are the opportunities that Betis really need to do better to test Pinto.

55 minBetis are nearly in around the back as Mabwati raids down the right and he beats the challenge of Adriano. He has Baptistao to hit in the middle but his cross is cut out by a good header from Barta before it can reach the striker in the six-yard box.

57 minMabwati is in around the back again and the ball sits up for him to have an effort at goal, but from 20 yards out his volley sails harmlessly over the bar. The visitors are slowly creeping into this game, Barcelona need to be careful here.

58 minCHANCE! Betis have a great chance to test Pinto when Baptistao releases Vadillo around the back of the Barcelona defence. The midfielder has two players to hit in the middle but his cross evades Nono and Mabwati at the back post, when all the ball would have needed was a touch to find the net.

61 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Betis make changes as Vadillo and Mabwati are replaced by Molina and Castro.

62 minBarcelona are really struggling to get back into a rhythm in the second half. They are being outplayed at the moment by Betis who are dominating possession at the moment.

63 minCHANCE! N'Diaye raids forward and tries to close down Mascherano inside the box and in doing so the ball cannons of his foot and nearly lobs Pinto. The keeper somehow manages to get back and tips the ball over the crossbar. An excellent save by Pinto.

64 minFrom the resulting corner there is a scramble at the back post with N'Diaye involved again but the visitors can't fire them ball home in the chaos. Barcelona somehow survive.

66 minGOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis (Jordi OG)

66 minBarcelona double their lead and it is completely against the run of play as Sanchez looked to raid forward and slide a pass for Messi in the box. Jordi tries to cut out the pass and in doing so can only guide the ball past Adan into the bottom corner of the net. Desperately unlucky for the visitors but those are how the breaks fall at the bottom of the table.

68 minGOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Real Betis (Ruben Castro)

68 minThe visitors are right back into the game as Ruben Castro finds the net from close range with a neat finish. The ball broke to him deep in the Barcelona half and took advantage from a slip from Bartra and manage to fire the ball underneath Pinto into the net. A real lifeline for Betis.

70 minThat goal is nothing more than the visitors deserve for their efforts in the second half. Now Barcelona have to concentrate again to try and see out the game to get the three points.

72 minCHANCE! Adriano finds space in the final third for the first time in the second half and his ball into the box finds Messi. The Argentine pulls the trigger on a low shot but it goes just past the post.

74 minWe have a real battle at then Camp Nou now as both sides look very capable of adding to the scoreline. Betis are desperate for the point in their fight for survival while Barcelona need to catch Atletico at the top of the table. We're poised for a very interesting final 15 minutes or so.

76 minCHANCE! The game is open now and Messi finds all sorts of space to release Sanchez inside the penalty area. The forward takes a touch onto his right foot but he blasts his effort over the bar from a tight angle.

78 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Iniesta and Pedro make way for Martino's side and are replaced by Neymar and Fabregas.

80 minCHANCE! Fabregas makes an impact almost immediately as he lifts the ball over the top of the Betis defence for Messi to run onto, but Amaya gets his foot to the ball and diverts it behind for a corner. There a shouts for a penalty from the crowd but Messi gets on his feet and gets ready for the set piece.

81 minSUBSTITUTION: Baptistao makes way for Rodriguez for the visitors for the final 10 minutes.

83 minCHANCE! What a chance for the visitors to draw level but they can't take it. Amaya lifts the ball into the box from a free kick just inside the Barcelona half and N'Diaye wins the ball and then tries to fired at goal but he can't make good contact as Mascherano gets in with a tackle.

84 minPENALTY TO BARCELONA!

84 minBarcelona get their second penalty of the match as Neymar's cross hits the hand of Juanfran and the referee points to the spot. It's harsh as the defender has his hands at his side, but the referee had no hesitation.

86 minGOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Real Betis (Messi)

86 minMessi's penalty is saved by Adan as his weak shot to the right is parried. Unfortunately for the keeper he palms the ball right back into the path of Messi and although he gets a hand to his second effort, he can't keep the ball out. That should seal the three points for the home side.

86 minSUBSTITUTION: Song replaces Xavi for the last five minutes for Barcelona.

88 minThe goal from Messi has put the final nail in the coffin for Betis. They've played well this afternoon but didn't take the chances that were on offer and that's going to cost them. Barcelona are going to see this out quite comfortably now.

90 minThere will be three minutes of added time.

90+2 minCHANCE! Fabregas has the chance to add a fourth for the home side, as he gets the ball on the edge of the area. The former Arsenal man takes a touch onto his right foot but his effort bends just past the post.

90+3 minFULL-TIME: Barcelona 3-1 Real Betis

6.52pmBarcelona do what they had to do to close the gap to Atletico Madrid to one point at the top of the La Liga table. It was far from their best performance but Martino will not care too much about that as they extend their winning streak in the league to five games.

6.55pmBetis played well this afternoon but will rue their missed chances from N'Diaye and Mabwati. There was hope when Ruben Castro scored immediately after Barcelona got their second, but they just didn't have enough quality to get the second of their own. Two mistakes in their area ultimately cost them and their hopes of avoiding relegation now look bleak.

7pmThat's it from me this evening. Thanks for joining our commentary and be sure to follow all the action from Real Madrid's clash with Real Sociedad, but until next time, goodbye.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 2, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1AlavesAlaves00000000
2Athletic Bilbao00000000
3Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
4Barcelona00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
6Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo00000000
7EibarEibar00000000
8Espanyol00000000
9Getafe00000000
10GironaGirona00000000
11Las PalmasLas Palmas00000000
12Leganes00000000
13Levante00000000
14Malaga00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000
18Sevilla00000000
19Valencia00000000
20Villarreal00000000