Mon, May 14, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Guardiola’s final league match rescued by Keita

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, right, battles for the ball with Real Betis Balompie’s Javier Chica in their La Liga match in Seville, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Ten-man Barcelona needed a stoppage-time goal to secure a 2-2 draw at Real Betis Balompie on Saturday in coach Pep Guardiola’s final La Liga match in charge.

Sergi Busquets got an early goal for the Catalans, before they had Dani Alves sent off early in the second half.

Ruben Castro took full advantage of the numerical difference to score twice for Betis in the final 20 minutes, leaving Guardiola staring at defeat until Seydou Keita headed in an equalizer in the dying moments.

The departing coach can look back with satisfaction on four seasons in which he has won 13 trophies, including three leagues titles before Real Madrid triumphed this season.

His final game will be on May 25 when his side take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.

“I have no idea what memories I leave the league with. I hope they are good ones that last a long time, but I don’t think the league will miss me too much, it was here before me and will continue after me,” Guardiola said.

Lionel Messi was unable to add to his 50 league goals on a quiet night for the Argentine.

Ibrahim Affelay had already missed a good chance a minute before Busquets put Barca ahead on nine minutes, flicking home a near post header from a Xavi corner.

Messi tried from distance on 17 minutes and Xavi went close with a floated free-kick just moments later.

On 31 minutes, fullback Adriano burst into the area and curled a right-foot shot that produced a top draw save from Casto Espinosa in the Betis goal.

Then Xavi again went close with a curling free-kick as Barca dominated the first period.

Casto came to Betis’ rescue again just after the break, saving well from Keita, before Betis burst into life.

Victor Valdes saved at the feet of Ruben Castro, before Dani Alves received his marching orders for a second booking after a clumsy foul on Jefferson Montero.

Betis leveled on 70 minutes when Castro chipped Valdes after being sent clear from a long ball out of defense.

Four minutes later, Castro made it 16 for the season when he coolly slipped the ball past Valdes after a delightful pass from Benat Etxebarria.

Messi almost leveled when he slammed a free-kick against the post in the final minute, before Keita scored with a powerful header in stoppage-time to save a point for Guardiola.

In the night’s other game, third-placed Valencia slumped to a 1-0 loss at Real Sociedad.

Antoinne Griezmann got the only goal from close range in the second half after good wing play by Xabi Prieto.

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