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Barcelona earn a hard-fought victory over Real Betis

Barcelona extended their La Liga lead to eight points after Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski scored to earn them a hard-fought 2-1 win at Real Betis on Wednesday.

Barca is top on 50 points, eight points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid, who have a game in hand and will host struggling Valencia on Thursday. Betis are sixth on 31 points.

Manager Xavi Hernandez was happy with the win for his La Liga leaders, whose points tally midway through the season has them on track to potentially beat the single-season record of 100 held jointly between the Catalans and Real Madrid.

“I think we played really well,” Xavi said after the match. “I would say we were excellent in many phases of the game. We could have sentenced the game with Ansu [Fati’s] header to make it 3-0. But it was a great performance. I am really happy with the performance as much as the result.

“We took the ball off a team that has it a lot. We improved a lot from [Saturday’s win] at Girona.”

Barcelona controlled the game on a chilly night in Sevilla but was foiled by goalkeeper Rui Silva who made three good saves to deny Pedri.

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