A brace for midfielder Cesc Fabregas and a goal apiece for strikers Neymar and Pedro were plenty to carry Barcelona to a 4-1 victory over Real Betis on Sunday night at the Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.
It was the first brace for the 26-year-old Fabregas since the Catalans 5-0 win over Mallorca in June, when he notched a hat trick and came off after 64 minutes.
Neymar squared up for his his fourth La Liga goal of the season and Pedro earned his his sixth. Along with his goals, Fabregas tied Neymar for the Catalans lead in assists by aiding the Brazilian’s strike in the 35th minute. Both now have seven assists on the year.
Dani Alves committed a bad foul in the Catalans penalty area, which resulted in Betis only goal for Jorge Molina in extra time of the second half.
Andres Iniesta substituted for Lionel Messi in the 22nd minute after the Argentine appeared to suffer another leg injury. It is the third leg injury for superstar Messi this year, and Barcelona reportedly said he would undergo tests on Monday.
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Defender Marc Bartra came up with his first career assist in La Liga play by finding Pedro for a fast break, and Martin Montoya and Fabregas connected in the 63rd.
Both Catalans keeper Victor Valdes and Betis’s Guillermo Sara were tested multiple times, and each made four saves on the day. It would have been Valdes eighth clean sheet of the year and his third straight had it not been for Alves ill timed foul.
However, Valdes didn’t start his performance off on the right foot. In 19th minute he was issued a yellow card after making one of his saves.
Betis midfielders Xavi Torres, Nono and Juan Carlos were also shown yellows.
The scoring began when defender Alex Song lifted a through ball to Fabregas, who found Neymar wide open for a right footed shot and goal in the 35th.
From there, Bartra cleared a Betis cross with a header, which magically dropped in front of Pedro who charged ahead with defenders on their heels and curved his shot pas Sara in the 37th.
Fabregas earned his brace in the 79th by heading in a cross from Alves.