Not even two goals by Lionel Messi could save Barcelona from its first Spanish league home defeat in more than two years on Sunday, when Real Betis won 4-3 at Camp Nou.
Betis never trailed as it ended the Spanish leader’s run of 42 unbeaten home games in the league that dated back to a 2-1 defeat to Alaves in September 2016.
Messi did all he could to keep Barcelona’s streak going in his first game back since breaking a bone in his right forearm three weeks ago.
The Argentina forward scored a second-half penalty, set up substitute Arturo Vidal to reduce the deficit to 3-2, and added a final goal for the hosts late in stoppage time.
But Betis led 2-0 at halftime thanks to opening goals by Junior Firpo and Joaquin Sanchez. Giovani Lo Celso and substitute Sergio Canales then responded to Messi’s spot kick and Vidal’s goal, respectively, to keep them comfortably in front.
Barcelona was left with 10 men in the 82nd minute when Ivan Rakitic earned a second booking for a hard tackle on Lo Celso. A minute later Firpo led another attack for Betis from the left flank, passing for substitute Canales to slide and push in what proved to be the winner.
“They won the match in the first half,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We played a poor first half, and then each time we got closer they hit us right back.”
Barcelona hadn’t lost at home in any competition since Valverde’s debut in the Spanish Super Cup at the start of the 2017-18 season, when it lost 3-1 to Real Madrid.
Barcelona remained one point ahead of Atletico Madrid, which it visits next round after an international break.
Alaves mounted its third comeback victory of the season to beat Huesca 2-1 with goals by Jonathan Rodriguez and Ruben Sobrino.
One of the surprises of the season, Alaves is level on points with Atletico right behind Barcelona.
Source: The Associated Press