With the La Liga title race at stake, uncertainty loomed over Barcelona, with injuries to several key players forcing them to use an experimental lineup. Setting the stage up against Betis, the match would soon turn into an unpredictable series of events, leading Barcelona to victory.
Barcelona’s lineup included two talents from La Masia, Forward Lamine Yamal and Defender Pau Cubrasi. This would mark the second time in the history of La Liga where two 16-year-olds have played at the same time.
Within the first four minutes of the match, there were multiple chances for both teams to score. In the third minute, midfielder Pedri Gonzalez kicks Barcelona’s first corner of the match. The ball missed as it headed at the front post. A minute later, Real Betis had a chance to score as Luiz Henrique chipped the ball over the bar.
It is now the 20th minute, the players are running down the field as midfielder Pedri Gonzalez passes the ball across to forward Ferran Torres. Torres strikes the ball past Betis goalkeeper, Rui Silva, as audible noises of the fans begin to fill the stadium. The score is now 0-1. The tie would be broken as Ferran Torres beat Rui Silva. This is just the beginning of an unforgettable night for the striker.
Barcelona’s young talents shone as the match went on. Cubarsi demonstrates strong defense against the Andalusian rival. Around the 38th minute, Yamal nearly scores another chance to double up against Betis for Barcelona. Yamal strikes, but he merely misses the goal by touching the post.
Forward Robert Lewandowski would also take a chance as he scores a goal near halftime. However, the goal is ruled offside as an additional minute is added into gameplay to review. Ultimately, VAR ruled the goal offside as the two sides went into the locker room.
The match commenced once more, as the players ran down the field. Defender Jules Kounde passes the ball to Yamal. Now in possession of the ball, the forward runs across the field as he kicks the ball off the post. Around the 47th minute, Ferran Torres runs forward from the middle position to strike the ball in the goal, once more.
It is a second goal for the Valencia native, doubling up Barcelona’s lead 0-2. However, the double lead would be challenged once Betis’ Isco scored a goal in the 56th minute. Isco would soon score again after, evening the scores at 2-2.
The pressure is on for Barcelona to get ahead as the game took an unexpected turn in just three minutes. Barcelona’s Manager, Xavi Hernandez, proceeded to make a change in players for the following minutes. Robert Lewandowski would be subbed out, and Striker Vitor Roque would be subbed in. Forward Joao Felix would also be subbed in for Pau Cubarsi later on.
With changes implemented, the match continued with more missed chances from both teams. Around the 88th minute, Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan passed the ball through an opening to Joao Felix. Felix ran down the field, passing the ball to Torres, who passed it back to Felix, who ultimately struck the ball into the net during the 89th minute. The marveling goal was initiated by the outer part of Felix’s boot as it goes into the bottom corner.
This goal would put Barcelona into the lead 2-3, but the action wouldn’t stop there for the Blaugrana. In the 92nd minute, assisted by Yamal, Torres would score a last-minute match-determining goal to make a complete hat trick. Barcelona won the thriller against Betis 2-4, adding four more points in the race for the La Liga title. After Torres scored the goal, Coach Xavi Hernandez fist pumps the air in celebration.
“The team showed personality, showed mentality. I am happy with the performance individually and especially in collective things. One of the season's best performances.” says Xavi Hernandez post-match with Optus Sport.
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