Dec 9, 2012 at 8pm UK at ​Estadio Benito Villamarin
Real Betis
1-2
Barcelona
Castro (39')
Campbell (37'), Vadillo Cifuentes (62'), Nacho (89')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Messi (16', 25')
Alba (61'), Pedro (76')

Live Commentary: Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona - as it happened

Estadio Benito Villamarin
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live commentary of tonight's La Liga clash between Real Betis and Barcelona at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Lionel Messi was the focus of attention as Barcelona travelled to Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.

Two goals from the Argentine in the first period surpassed Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, but the party was spoiled on the stroke of the interval as Ruben Castro cut the score to 2-1 at the interval.

Betis hit the woodwork three times in the second period, but they could not force it over the line as Barcelona held on for yet another three points in a quite remarkable start to the season.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action.

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7.52pmEvening all! Arguably the most attractive fixture of week 15 in La Liga comes from Seville with Barcelona travelling to face an impressive Real Betis outfit. Victory for the home side would move them back into fourth spot in the table. Meanwhile, Barcelona would move six points clear of Atletico Madrid with the three points.

7.54pmTeams:

Real Betis: Adri; Chica, Amaya, Dorado, Nacho; Benat, Sevilla, Carlos, Canas; Campbell, Castro

Barcelona: Valdes; Adriano, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Fabregas, Busquets; Iniesta, Messi, Pedro

7.56pmAll eyes will once more be on Lionel Messi who is just one goal short of Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year. The Argentine injured his leg against Benfica in the Champions League in mid-week, but has been deemed fit to start. I am sure that Betis are delighted.

7.58pmBetis, meanwhile, have injury worries of their own. They are without , Ale Martinez, Mario, Paulao and Damien Perquis for the match. But in Ruben Castro they have a striker who is bang in form this season.

7.59pmThe corresponding fixture between the two sides last season ended in a 2-2 draw. Meanwhile, Barcelona have won two of the last five meetings, with one win for Betis and the other ending in a draw. A lot of well-versed people in Spain believe that Barcelona will drop points this evening.

1 minHere we go then. Handshakes? Check. Flags exchanged? Check. Lionel Messi? Check. Will this be the evening that the little Argentine breaks the record? He needs just a singular strike to level with Gerd Muller. Barcelona get the action underway in Seville.

3 minBarcelona have taken control of the possession in the early stages of the match, as you would expect. However, Betis are hunting in packs at the moment as they put the pressure on the likes of Xavi and Cesc Fabregas. We could be in for a real classic this evening.

5 minCHANCE! First real opportunity of the match comes to the home side as Joel Campbell finds Juan Carlos in the penalty area, but the midfielder can only head straight at Victor Valdes. What a start that would have been. Remember, Betis defeated Real Madrid in their last home encounter. They are a dangerous side.

7 minNeither team has really settled into the opening stages of the match with both sides exchanging spells of possession. Usually Barcelona dominate the large majority of the ball in every game they play, but Betis will certainly have their fair share this evening. Half-chance for Barcelona as Xavi spots the run of Adriano, but his pass is just too long for the Brazilian.

9 minFirst real sign of Messi as the Argentine picks up possession outside the Betis box, but he immediately has three players surrounding him and Salva Sevilla manages to clear the danger. The pressing from the home side has been quite incredible in the opening nine minutes of this match.

11 minHalf-chance for Barcelona to fashion an opportunity as Messi floats a free kick into the penalty area, but Nacho is on hand to clear the danger. However, Fabregas appears to have a problem with his hamstring here and it does not appear that he will be able to continue. Alexis Sanchez is preparing to come on.

13 minFabregas is indeed taken off with Sanchez making his comeback from injury. He has missed the last six games. Not a bad substitute to bring on I suppose. They also have the likes of David Villa and Javier Mascherano on the bench. Couple of penalty shouts for the home side in the last couple of moments, but neither was given.

15 minAgain it's decent attacking work from the home side as Jose Canas evades the challenge of Pique before driving into the box, but Carlos Puyol just manages to clear the danger. Meanwhile, Messi has just struggled in the opening 15 minutes of the match. He has lost possession with his last two touches.

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

16 minWhat was I saying about Messi? First chance of the match and the little Argentine drives into the penalty area before evading two challenges and firing into the back of the net. That is goal number 85 in the calendar year.

18 minIs Messi the greatest player ever? I'm not sure if anyone can make that judgment due to the conditions and players that might not have received the same coverage. But he certainly has to be up there. This game really is Barcelona's now as they pass and probe in the Betis half.

20 minCHANCE! Iniesta comes close to adding a second for Barcelona as he attempts to chip Adrian from the edge of the penalty area, but the Betis goalkeeper makes a fine save to quell the danger. Betis really need to keep this tight for the next five or so minutes.

22 minBarcelona are in total control of this match as they continue to pass and probe in the Betis half. Meanwhile, the home side's ability to press appears to have dropped after conceding the opening goal. Suddenly the extra yard just seems that much further than before.

24 minSlight stoppage in play at the moment as Juan Carlos receives some treatment following a clash with Barcelona defender Adriano. It does not appear that the midfielder will be able to continue. Meanwhile, the home side continue to struggle to keep possession in the Barcelona half.

25 minGOAL! Real Betis 0-2 Barcelona (Messi)

26 minTHERE IT IS! Goal number 86 of the calendar year puts Messi in a class of his own. Again it was wonderful play from Iniesta as the Spaniard found Messi just inside the box and the record breaker struck past Adrian.

28 minOn top of that record. Messi has now scored two goals in each of his last five league matches. What on earth can you say about that? It is just an incredible standard of football. And Messi is not finished this evening make no mistake about that.

30 minBarcelona are playing dream football at the moment. This time it was Pedro who combined with Iniesta down the left, but the former's cross was collected by Adrian. Meanwhile, change for Betis as Carlos is replaced by Vadillo. How on earth do Betis respond from here?

32 minBetis really are struggling at the moment as they try to come to terms with the quickness of the Barcelona passing. Xavi to Iniesta, back to Xavi. It has been like that for the opening 32 minutes in this match. On this form there is not a team in world football that can get anywhere near them.

34 minThe biggest cheer of the night erupts as Messi is dispossessed by Jose Canas. Betis started the match with such purpose, but they have struggled since the opening goal went in. Another half-chance for Barcelona as Xavi strikes from outside the box, but Adrian makes the save.

36 minQuick side note on Xavi. This is his 650th appearance for Barcelona this evening. That is also an incredible achievement. He has been his usual brilliant self in the opening stages of this match with pass after pass reaching its desired target. Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining.

38 minDecent period of possession for Betis in the past few moments, but they have been unable to find Campbell and Ruben Castro in advanced areas. The latter has been their shining light this season but I can count on one hand the amount of times he has touched the ball in this first period.

39 minGOAL! Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona (Castro)

39 minAm I under some sort of curse? Every time I mention that a player has been struggling they score. It's poor defending from Barcelona as Castro is allowed to advance into the box before firing his effort past Valdes.

41 minMeanwhile, that goal for Castro makes him the top scoring Spanish striker in La Liga this season. And now Betis are well and truly back into the match. The Messi circus has ended and the home supporters are really driving their team on.

43 minBetis are ending the half the stronger with Castro and Campbell now finding space between the lines. Another goal before the interval would change the whole feel of the stadium. But Barcelona are such a threat on the break with the pace of Sanchez and Pedro.

45 minBarcelona have responded by upping the tempo, but Pedro is cut down in his prime by Dorado and the danger is cleared for a throw. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minutes at the end of the half.

45 min+2Another half-chance falls the way of the home side as Canas fires a searching cross into the penalty area, but Valdes just comes to collect at the expense of Campbell. Really good period for Betis, but there is around 20 seconds of the half remaining.

HALF-TIMEReal Betis 1-2 Barcelona

8.50pmA magnificent half of football is brought to an end with Barcelona leading Real Betis 2-1 at the interval. Where to start? Messi has broken the goal record of 85 goals in a calendar year. The little Argentine is now one clear of Gerd Muller.

8.54pmLet's take a look at the statistics from the opening half of football. Barcelona have dominated the possession with 60%, while they have had five attempts to the home side's three. They have controlled the match for large periods, although Betis did end the half the stronger.

8.58pmAs it stands Barcelona would move six points clear of Atletico Madrid and 11 points clear of Real Madrid in third. Meanwhile, Betis would remain in fifth position, level on points with Malaga who sit fifth. But you just get the feeling that the drama has only just began in this match.

9.02pmLooking ahead to the second period. Betis may well have been thinking about a couple of changes at the break, but the way they finished the half would have handed them confidence. Meanwhile, Barcelona certainly look vulnerable in defence and could introduce Mascherano or Alves in order to tighten up.

46 minHere we go then. The home side get us underway in the second period. Change made at the interval for Barcelona as Puyol is replaced by Mascherano. Not a major surprise to be honest. Now, what will the second 45 minutes bring?

48 minBetis also make an early change as Jorge Molina replaces Arsenal's on-loan striker Campbell. Both teams had to make early changes in the opening period and therefore each side has just one sub remaining. The opening 10 minutes of this second period is so important.

50 minHandbags between the two sides at the moment as Sanchez takes exception to a challenge from Chica. Replays have shown that the defender did indeed catch the winger off the ball. But it was not spotted by the referee. He may well have received his marching orders for that. No love-lost between these two sides that is for certain.

52 minCHANCE! Oh my word! It is a dreadful mistake from Valdes as the Barcelona goalkeeper drops the ball underneath his crossbar, but somehow he manages to challenge Castro at the final moment to stop the striker tapping home. What a bizarre incident.

54 minBetis continue to put Barcelona under pressure with a series of crosses into the penalty area. Meanwhile, Molina comes close with an effort from inside the box, but Valdes is on hand to collect the danger. Messi advances down the other end moments later, but Dorado makes the clearance.

56 minBarcelona have a real game on their hands this evening make no mistake about that. There is still the best part of 35 minutes remaining and Betis continue to come forward with numbers. Castro and Molina look the two players most likely at the moment.

58 minAnother half-chance comes the way of the home side as Castro strikes an effort from inside the penalty area, but his effort is wide of the post. Meanwhile, Sevilla strikes wide from a similar angle moments later. The pressure is all one way at the moment.

60 minBetis continue to make life uncomfortable for Barcelona with the pass of Canas and Sevilla. However, the away side are causing problems when they attack with the pace of Pedro and Sanchez. It is so delicately poised. You just get the feeling that the next goal will decide the result of this match.

62 minBarcelona have a penalty shout as Sanchez tumbles in the area under the challenge of Nacho, but the referee shakes his head. Betis advance immediately down the other end, but Alba chops Castro down in his prime, picking up a yellow card for his troubles.

64 minBarcelona have just gained control of the possession in the past few moments but their final pass is now lacking. This time it's Pedro who finds the run of Adriano, but the Brazilian's cross is poor and Betis clear the danger once more.

66 minAnother half-chance comes to Barcelona as Xavi finds the run of Messi, but Adrian is quick off his line to clear the danger for a throw. But you just get the feeling that the away side have ridden out that difficult period and could now punish Betis.

68 minIt's all Barcelona at the moment with Xavi and Iniesta passing ad probing outside the Betis half. The latter comes close to finding the run of Messi inside the penalty area, but Nacho clears the danger for a corner. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining and Barcelona still lead 2-1.

70 minCHANCE! Betis come within a whisker of levelling as Benat strikes a free kick from outside the penalty area, but it thumps against the crossbar before Valdes is able to gather. What a let off for the La Liga leaders. But good teams make their own luck right?!

72 minWe have just seen another replay of the post incident and Benat's delivery was flicked on by Pique onto the post. Talk about run of the green. Is that a sign that Barcelona will hang onto the three points this evening? You just get the feeling that there is another goal in this match.

74 minEnd-to-end football at the moment with both sides looking for that all-important strike. Meanwhile, Betis make their final change of the match as Sevilla is replaced by Alejandro Pozuelo. He is an attacking midfielder and will be given licence to roam. Oh what a final 15 minutes we have here.

76 minYou just get the feeling that Betis are tiring in the latter stages, they put so much effect into getting back into the match and have been without the ball for large periods of the match. Barcelona have just settled once more in the past couple of minutes.

78 minCHANCE! Glorious opportunity for Barcelona to wrap up all the points as Pedro advances on goal, but his effort was saved by Adrian. The Spanish winger has not scored in his last 18 matches for the Catalan outfit. Incredible for a player who has hit double figures in recent seasons.

80 minAnother half-chance comes the way of Betis as Benat attempts to find Castro with a searching pass, but Alba just sticks out a leg to block the danger. Meanwhile, a last-ditch tackle from Pique denies Molina moments later. It is all happening here.

82 minCHANCE! Oh my word! What have Betis got to do to score? It's another wonderful effort from Pozuelo as the midfielder strikes from outside the box, but it thumps against the post. Valdes was left to stand and stare.

84 minWhat would a result like this do to Real Madrid? They would have watched Barcelona get battered in the second period but still win against a side they lost to. Incredible. Meanwhile, Barcelona make their final change as Thiago replaces Pedro. Little over five minutes of football remaining.

86 minCHANCE! Incredible miss from Jordi Alba as the Spanish defender latches onto a loose save from Adrian, but somehow he can only strike the crossbar from close range. Oh my word! What entertainment here.

88 minBarcelona have possession of the ball as we enter the final two minutes of normal time. It would be an incredible result if they could hang onto the three points this evening. This has been their biggest test of the season bar Real Madrid. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

89 minHalf-chance for Xavi to add Barcelona's third as he strikes a free kick from outside the box, but it just moves high of the crossbar. Little over one minute of football remaining here and Betis continue to give away free kicks in their own half.

90 minThe fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of football. Three minutes for Betis to secure an equaliser in this match. Another free kick is whipped into the Barcelona box, but Valdes gathers.

90 min+2Betis continue to force the issue with a number of high balls into the Barcelona box, but the away side settle with a period of possession and the home side simply cannot find that elusive pass. But there is still little over one minute to play.

90 min+3Betis force a late corner as they pile every member of their side into the penalty area, including the goalkeeper. But Molina can only head over the crossbar and that could be just about that for this one.

FULL-TIMEReal Betis 1-2 Barcelona

9.52pmBarcelona hold on for the vital win and move six points ahead of Atletico. Meanwhile, Betis remain in fifth position. But the night was all about Messi, who now has the record of 86 goals in a calendar year. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and join us for more La Liga football tomorrow evening. Until then!

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Tables
TeamPGDPTS
1Atletico Madrid385190
2Barcelona386787
3Real Madrid386687
4Athletic Bilbao382770
5Sevilla381763
6Villarreal381659
7Real Sociedad38759
8Valencia38-249
9Celta Vigo38-549
10Levante38-848
11Malaga38-745
12Rayo Vallecano38-3443
13Espanyol38-942
14Getafe38-1942
15Granada38-2541
16Elche38-2040
17Almeria38-2840
18Cordoba000
19Deportivo La Coruna000
20Eibar000
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