Astonishing Betis comeback against brittle Barcelona
The most remarkable game of the Spanish season saw Barcelona crash 3-2 Saturday at lowly Betis, throwing away a 2-0 lead in a dramatic meltdown. ( dpa )
The astonishing turnaround confirms the impression that the team that picked up the European crown in 2006 is now finished.
Barca now have 58 points from 30 games, four behind leaders Real Madrid, who are at sixth-placed Sevilla on Sunday.
Barca are now just two points ahead of Villarreal, who will leap- frog into second place if they beat fourth-placed Atletico Madrid later Saturday.
With just 30 minutes left in Seville, Barca were sitting pretty, up 2-0 with early goals from Bojan Krkic and Samuel Eto'.
But Betis refused to give up, and their fightback started in the 63rd minute, when Edu headed in a centre from fellow Brazilian Rafael Sobis.
Five minutes later, Betis were given a penalty for a pull by Eric Abidal on German winger David Odonkor - only for Edu's spot-kick to be saved by Victor Valdes.
In the 76th minute, however, Spain defender Juanito Gutierrez made it 2-2 with a handsome volley - and Barca were really against the ropes.
Just two minutes later, Edu brought the house down with a fierce near-post drive to take the lead.
Barca had conceded three goals in the space of 15 minutes and had thrown away the chance to put massive pressure on Real.
Barca will surely now complain about the match, in the end, being played in Betis' Estadio Ruiz de Lopera.
Last week, the Spanish federation imposed a two-match stadium ban on Betis because of the bottle that laid out Bilbao keeper Armando a fortnight ago. The Betis-Barca clash was going to be staged in Atletico Madrid's Estadio Calderon, but the federation's appeals court granted Betis an injunction on Friday evening - and so the match was played in Seville, to Barca's chagrin.
Once again, Barca - who have won just four away games all season - made the trip without idol-turned-idle Ronaldinho, as well as injury victims Lionel Messi, Deco and Rafa Marquez.
The depressing defeat will put them in poor heart ahead of their Champions League quarter-final against Schalke 04.