Result: Real Betis 1-4 FC Barcelona
Date: 17 March 2019
Venue: Benito Villamarín Stadium
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was in fine form after netting a hat-trick to inspire FC Barcelona to a 4-1 win over Real Betis in LaLiga on Sunday evening.
Betis enjoyed the majority of the possession in the opening exchanges and indeed throughout the match. With 12 minutes gone, Joaquin's lovely diagonal found Cristian Tello, who squared the ball on the volley for Jese but the Betis striker just failed to get on the end of it.
Soon after, Barca took the lead and it came courtesy of their talisman Messi. Arthur won the free-kick after being fouled by Sergio Canales 20 yards out. Messi stepped up and curled the free-kick in to the top right-hand corner, leaving Pau Lopez with no chance.
With five minutes to go before half-time, Suarez had a golden opportunity to extend the visitors' lead. Vidal threaded through a wonderful through ball for Messi, who squared the ball for Suarez but the Uruguayan striker could only shoot tamely on his left foot straight at Lopez.
Ernesto Valverde's side doubled their lead with the last kick of the first half. Messi played a one-two with Suarez, who produced a wonderful back-heel in to the Argentine's path, with Messi poking home from close range and finishing off a move he had started. Despite having put in a more than admirable first-half performance, Betis unluckily went in to the interval 2-0 behind.
Much like the first half, Betis continued to dominate possession in the second. Canales missed an excellent opportunity in the 56th minute. A chipped through-ball got him in behind the Barca defence but he fluffed his lines when shaping to shoot.
On the hour mark, Suarez had two good chances in quick succession to kill the game off but failed to take either. It mattered little, however, as the Uruguayan immediately made amends by scoring a magnificent individual effort. Running from the halfway line, he weaved his way past three defenders before finishing emphatically from 12 yards.
Betis pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute. Tello’s cross went behind Jese but came to the substitute Diego Lainez. He twisted and turned before laying the ball back to another subsitute, Loren Moron, who shaped a curler into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Messi completed his hat-trick shortly afterwards, playing a one-two with Rakitic before producing an exquisitely impudent chip over Lopez and off the underside of the crossbar before going in - a fitting way to end the game.