Barcelona beat Real Betis 1-2 thanks to a last-gasp winner from Jordi Alba to confirm their place in the Champions League for next season.
In the 94th minute Dani Alves stood up a cross to the back post and Alba arrived to volley powerfully into the top corner with an unbelievable finish.
There was nothing to separate the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, both teams even hit the woodwork. Ronald Araujo’s bullet header was tipped onto the bar brilliantly by Rui Silva in the Betis goal.
Soon after Guido Rodriguez unleashed a powerful low shot off the post.
Xavi’s side scored first and it was the substitute Ansu Fati who put them ahead. He had been on the field for just one minute before his shot wrong footed the goalkeeper after a great first touch showing the composure Barca were lacking for much of the game.
Betis responded quickly however, as ex-Barcelona man Marc Bartra climbed highest at a corner and headed in.
Both teams had a few chances to win it towards the end of the game and it looked to be heading to a draw before Alba’s goal sparked jubilant scenes.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are now three points behind Atletico Madrid in fourth as they look to join Barca in the Champions League for the first time since 2005.
TALKING POINT – XAVI IS RE-BUILDING BARCA
When Ronald Koeman left the club the Catalan giants were in disarray. They were poor on the pitch and had financial issues off it. They called upon legendary player Xavi to guide them out of this mess and so he has done. Tonight, they have sealed a Champions League place that will be huge for attracting top players over the summer and for earning money.
Barca have some young stars in their team like Araujo and Gavi as well as quality via the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alba and Sergio Busquets, so adding to that spine will be vital. There is nothing stopping Barca going back to competing with Real Madrid for the La Liga title next season, especially when they are able to find ways of winning matches when they don’t play their best against tough opponents like Betis.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ronald Araujo – Barcelona: The Uruguayan centre-back was up against a tough customer in the form of Borja Iglesias and he dealt with him superbly. It was a great physical battle and Araujo restricted the striker to a few notable touches. Araujo was unlucky not to score when his header looked to be flying in only to be denied by a great save. Also, he made an outstanding recovery tackle to deny the in-form Juanmi from getting a strike on goal as he was 1 vs 1 with the keeper.
Real Betis: Bravo 6, Sabaly 7, Pezzella 7, Bartra 7, Moreno 7, Rodriguez 8, Guardado 7, Canales 7, Fekir 7, Juanmi 6, Iglesias 6. Subs: Silva 7, Carvalho 6, Rodri 6.
Barcelona: Neto 6, Alves 8, Araujo 9, Garcia 7, Alba 8, Busquets 8, Gavi 7, De Jong 6, Torres 5, Dembele 7, Depay 5. Subs: Aubameyang 6, Traore 6, Fati 8, Puiq 6.
76’ – GOAL (FATI) – He has only just come on – Ansu Fati scores. He has the composure to control the ball so well from the left. Takes a touch out of his feet and unleashes a shot that wrong-foots the ‘keeper.
78’ – GOAL (BARTRA) – The former Barca man – it’s Bartra. A simple corner in from Fekir and it’s off the shoulder of Bartra.
90+4’ – GOAL (ALBA) – What a goal – astonishing! Alves crosses to the back stick and Alba volleys it at the back post into the roof of the net. That’s a rocket.