Real Madrid, Barca recover from Cup exits with league wins

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Madrid, Feb 10 (IANS) FC Barcelona came back twice from a goal down before Clement Lenglet’s second half header gave them a 3-2 win away to Betis that keeps them within three points of Real Madrid at the top of the Liga Santander.

Barca kicked off knowing they needed a win to avoid falling five or six points behind Real Madrid, who had won in Pamplona earlier on Sunday, but the game was only five minutes old when Lenglet was penalized for handling Nabil Fekir’s shot allowing Sergio Canales to score the penalty, reports Xinhua news agency.

Betis’ were ahead for just two minutes before Frenkie De Jong scored from close range after an assist from Lionel Messi, but Fekir restored Betis’ lead 20 minutes later.

Barca were struggling to control the game, but Busquets got them level with another close range finish after a Messi free kick.

Lenglet scored the winning goal in the 73rd minute after yet another assist from Messi, but didn’t finish the game as he was shown a second yellow card after a foul on Joaquin, moments after Fekir had also been sent off after seeing two yellow cards in 10 seconds: one for a foul and another for complaining.

Real Madrid also recovered from their midweek Copa del Rey exit as they too came back after receiving an early goal to win 4-1 away to Osasuna.

Unai Garcia opened the scoring following a corner in the 15th minute, but Isco equalized in the 33rd minute after a shot from Gareth Bale had been blocked, and Sergio Ramos headed Madrid ahead after Casemiro had flicked on a corner.

The result was in the balance until the closing minutes before Lucas Vazquez in the 84th minute and Luka Jovic, who scored deep into injury time, made the win look easier than it actually had been.

In other match, Real Sociedad won the derby 2-1 at home to Athletic Club Bilbao, who rested nearly all of their regular starters ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final.

Portu put Real Sociedad ahead in the 65th minute and although Inaki Williams equalised shortly afterwards, Alexander Isak continued his impressive recent form when he was on hand to score the winner with eight minutes left to play.

–IANS

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