Raphinha scored one goal and assisted another as Barcelona restored their 11-point lead at the LaLiga summit with a comfortable 4-0 victory over 10-man Real Betis.
Real Madrid cut the gap at the top to eight points with a 4-2 victory over Almeria before Saturday’s kick-off at Camp Nou, but Barca reclaimed their significant advantage in style.
Andreas Christensen’s early header from Raphinha’s delightful cross set the Blaugrana on their way before Robert Lewandowski struck after a mindless first-half dismissal for Betis substitute Edgar Gonzalez.
Raphinha added a third goal soon after, before a Guido Rodriguez own goal sealed a dominant victory for Barca, who introduced 15-year-old debutant Lamine Yamal in the closing stages.
Barca raced into the ascendancy after 14 minutes when Raphinha delivered a pinpoint right-wing cross for Christensen, who headed down past the helpless Rui Silva from close range.
A needless Gonzalez foul on Pedri then saw the Betis defender, brought on for the injured Luiz Felipe, dismissed for two quickfire cautions in the 33rd minute.
Lewandowski capitalised just three minutes later when firing a right-footed strike into the bottom-left corner from Jules Kounde’s low cross.
Raphinha inflicted further damage by smashing past the onrushing Silva following Sergio Busquets’ disguised throughball, with the goal given after the VAR overturned an on-field offside decision.
Lewandowski rattled the right post when one-on-one with Silva after the break but Betis suffered further punishment when Rodriguez turned Ansu Fati’s low cross into his own net.
Xavi took the opportunity to hand teenager Yamal his debut as Barca eased to victory.
Barcelona player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10 – Now up to 24 clean sheets for the season. 24.
RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Helped pin Betis back with high positions on the right.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 7/10 – Defended with his usual aggressive confidence.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 8/10 – A first start since February yielded his first Barcelona goal.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 7/10 – Had a lot of joy sprinting down the left wing.
DM: Sergio Busquets – 8/10 – Rolled back the years with a dominant display in the heart of midfield.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 6/10 – Kept the ball moving before being hooked on the hour mark.
CM: Pedri – 7/10 – Roamed forward with real intent and was unlucky not to have grabbed an assist.
RW: Raphinha – 9/10 – A goal and an assist for a man who hasn’t quite won over Barcelona fans just yet in his debut season.
CF: Robert Lewandowski – 9/10 – Always looked a threat and didn’t give Betis a moment’s rest.
LW: Gavi – 6/10 – Tucked in-field a fair bit but wasn’t as dangerous as he has been at other points this season.
Marcos Alonso (59′ for Christensen) – 6/10
Ansu Fati (59′ for De Jong) – 7/10
Ousmane Dembele (73′ for Raphinha) – 6/10
Franck Kessie (73′ for Pedri) – 6/10
Lamine Yamal (85′ for Gavi) – N/A
Xavi – 7/10 – Helped plenty by the red card but hey, you can only beat what’s in front of you.
Real Betis player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Rui Silva (5); RB: Martin Montoya (5), CB: Luiz Felipe (N/A), CB: German Pezzella (5), LB: Juan Miranda (5); CM: Guido Rodriguez (5), CM: William Carvalho (6); RM: Luiz Henrique (5), AM: Sergio Canales (4), LM: Ayoze Perez (4); CF: Willian Jose (4)
SUBS: Edgar Gonzalez (1), Abner (5), Joaquin (5), Juanmi (N/A)
Player of the match – Raphinha (Barcelona)
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