Barca’s record run snapped with Betis cup loss

2011-01-20 07:18

Real Betis snapped Barcelona’s club record unbeaten run at 28 with a 3-1 victory in the Copa del Rey but the Spanish champion still reached the semifinals after winning the series 6-3 on aggregate.

Jorge Molina scored twice within seven minutes of the start of yesterday’s return leg to give the fans at Benito Villamarin Stadium some hope.

Betis managed to keep Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez from linking until the 38th minute when the Argentina forward held off two defenders to gather Xavi’s pass and slip a shot through goalkeeper Casto Espinosa’s legs. It was Messi’s 32nd goal of the season in all competitions.

Messi failed to make it 33 after shooting a penalty over the goal in the 54th and Arturo “Arzu” Garcia re-established the two-goal lead after swinging to volley a poorly cleared ball past keeper Jose Manuel Pinto.

The second-division leaders avenged a lopsided loss at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona suffered its last defeat: a 2-0 league loss to Hercules on September 11.

Almeria awaits Barcelona in the final four after beating Deportivo La Coruna 3-2 to reach the semifinals for the first time after winning the series 4-2 on aggregate. The last time the two clubs met Barcelona scored a record 8-0 victory.

While Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola fielded many regulars despite a 5-0 first-leg lead, Betis took the game straight at the 25-time cup champion as Molina gave the hosts a perfect start after slipping behind the defence to turn home a free kick from near the goal line inside the near post.

Ezequiel Cavente’s throughball found Molina alone inside the area and the Betis striker poked past Pinto for 2-0 as Barcelona struggled to build an attack with Seydou Keita’s long-range shot in the 13th its first shot on Espinosa.
Molina nearly had a third in the 15th but Gerard Pique came from behind to poke away after Molina hesitated with Pinto pressing.
While Betis smoothly strung its attack together, Barcelona struggled to unlock the host’s pressure until Messi surpassed Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo by one goal in the overall season tally.

But another Barcelona defensive error allowed Betis to re-establish its lead as Diego Milito – given the starting nod after deciding to stay with the Catalan club rather than transfer out – headed onto the path of Arzu.

Messi uncharacteristically missed a penalty after Iriney Santos da Silva handled inside the area, while Betis was unlucky in the 67th when Nacho Perez’s swirling drive found the near post with Pinto beat.

At A Coruna, Miguel Angel “Corona” Garcia latched on to Michel Macedo’s centering pass to fire Almeria into a 19th-minute lead at El Riazor Stadium. One minute later, Albert Crusat made it 2-0 when his shot took a friendly deflection to go over goalkeeper Manuel Fernandez.

Pablo Alverez scored a penalty in the 43rd after Crusat was booked for handling, and Deportivo equalised through Adrian Lopez’s powerful header in the 52nd.

But Ruben Perez was harshly booked for handling two minutes later and Henok Goitom’s ensuing penalty handed Almeria a third away goal to put it out of reach in front of 8?000 fans.

Real Madrid holds a 3-1 lead going to crosstown rival Atletico Madrid today, with the winner meeting defending champion Sevilla after it eliminated Villarreal.

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