Barcelona had no problem defeating Real Betis -- now the last-placed team in La Liga -- on Sunday, as expected. While the hosts had a few very nice early counters, they ultimately didn't have the quality to contend on either end and let in some fairly soft goals en route to a 4-1 win for the Blaugrana. The result of the game was secondary before a goal was scored, however, with Lionel Messi exiting the game early.
In the 17th minute, Messi went into a 50-50 challenge and pulled up lame, picking up some sort of lower body injury. It wasn't apparent if it was his previously injured hamstring or something else that was bothering him, though he did appear to grab his knee. He stood still for nearly five minutes before Andres Iniesta entered the game and Messi took a seat on the bench, rather than going down the tunnel.
Neymar scored Barcelona's opener in the 35th minute with a tap-in on an empty net, following a pretty move. Cesc Fabregas -- who had one of his best games of the season -- provided the setup by drawing Guillermo Sara and the Betis defense away from Neymar before squaring to the unmarked Brazilian. Two minutes later, Barca doubled their lead with another quick move, with Pedro scoring on this occasion off a cross by Marc Bartra.
The second half featured more of the same for the Blaugrana, with Fabregas scoring twice before being subbed off to applause. Javier Molina picked up a consolation goal for Betis in stoppage time, drawing a penalty on Dani Alves and converting himself.
Betis: Sara, Steinhöfer, Nacho, Montel, Caro, Torres, Vadillo, Nono (Mati 75'), Verdu (Chuli 63'), Carlos (Didac 67'), Molina
Goals: Molina (penalty 90')
Barcelona: Valdes, Montoya, Bartra, Puyol, Alves, Song, Xavi, Fabregas (Roberto 80'), Neymar (Tello 74'), Messi (Iniesta 22'), Pedro
Goals: Neymar (35'), Pedro (37'), Fabregas (63', 79')