Barcelona de­nied by Betis

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s ti­tle hopes were dented as they drew 1-1 at Real Betis yesterday in a game shrouded in con­tro­versy af­ter the cham­pi­ons were de­nied a goal de­spite the ball clearly cross­ing the line.

Alex Ale­gria gave Betis a de­served lead in the 75th minute af­ter the home side had hit the wood­work twice in quick suc­ces­sion, al­though Luis Suarez sal­vaged a point by ar­row­ing home Lionel Messi’s through ball in the 90th.

Be­fore the equaliser Barca were in­censed when a cross from Aleix Vi­dal was de­flected to­wards goal and ap­peared to cross the line by around a me­tre be­fore Aissa Mandi scram­bled the ball away. Un­like in the Pre­mier League, there is no goalline tech­nol­ogy in La Liga.

Vi­dal also had a shot cleared away in the goal­mouth mo­ments later.

Betis striker Ruben Cas­tro missed a gilt-edged chance to seal an un­likely win but failed to beat Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen af­ter racing through on goal un­chal­lenged.

There was no time af­ter Suarez’s lev­eller for the cham­pi­ons to find a win­ner, with the draw halt­ing their five-game win­ning streak in all com­pe­ti­tions.

“We did not play well, we made lots of er­rors in the first half and in the sec­ond half they were com­pletely su­pe­rior to us, we were nowhere near our usual level. The fi­nal min­utes change our sen­sa­tions but this feels like a point gained,” Luis En­rique said af­ter­wards.

“I have noth­ing to say about the ghost goal, I’ve seen the pic­tures. Tech­nol­ogy could help, and it’s ob­vi­ous that ref­er­ees need help.”

With a test­ing King’s Cup semi-fi­nal first leg at Atletico Madrid com­ing up on Wed­nes­day, Luis En­rique ro­tated his squad and left reg­u­lar starters Sa­muel Umtiti, Jordi Alba and Javier Mascher­ano out, while Ser­gio Bus­quets and An­dres Ini­esta were still in­jured.

The home side had the bet­ter of the first half, with tal­is­man Cas­tro shoot­ing straight at Ter Ste­gen in­side the area, and mid­fielder Dani Ce­bal­los forc­ing the Ger­man to tip away a shot from dis­tance.

Barca’s Ney­mar was thwarted at the other end by the quick re­ac­tions of Betis goal­keeper An­to­nio Adan.

Betis had Barca on the ropes in an in­tense spell when Ce­bal­los hit the bar from out­side the area and Cas­tro clipped the post with a skid­ding shot.

The hosts fi­nally found a way through from a corner as Ter Ste­gen failed to claim a cross and Ale­gria turned in the loose ball.

Barca were com­pelled into ac­tion and, af­ter the con­tentious de­ci­sion not to award them a goal, Suarez pounced with his 16th league ef­fort of the sea­son. – Reuters

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