Quique Setien hailed Real Betis’ 4-3 victory at LaLiga leaders Barcelona as “something that will be there forever” after his side edged a seven-goal thriller at the Nou Camp.
Junior and Joaquin fired Betis into a 2-0 half-time lead before Lionel Messi, on his first start since suffering a broken arm last month, pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.
Giovani Lo Celso restored the visitors’ two-goal cushion before Arturo Vidal responded for Barcelona. Ivan Rakitic was dismissed with nine minutes to go for the hosts, and Sergio Canales made the most of the numerical advantage to put Betis 4-2 ahead before Messi grabbed a late consolation.
And Setien praised the togetherness of his squad after his side forced Barcelona to concede four goals at home for the first time since a 4-2 defeat to Deportivo La Coruna in April 2003.
He told realbetisbalompie.es: “The strength of this team and this group is the most important thing. The dressing room is above everything else.
“We strongly believe in what we do and we accept it when it doesn’t work.
“Now it’s time to enjoy. The reality is that this is just three points and will soon be forgotten.
“We’ll enjoy the moment and the satisfaction of thousand of fans who follow their team every day. The rest will be a memory for all of us.
“Winning here with four goals is something that will be there forever. A treasure.”
Setien also believed the victory had more significance with Messi in the home line-up, who was on the losing side for the first time in his Barcelona career when scoring two goals in a match.
“I think we could have score some more. They also had good chances. I think we did a good game against a great team,” he added.
“This victory has even more value because Messi was on the pitch.
“I didn’t expect him to play. I spoke to him and told him that I wouldn’t have taken the risk but he couldn’t wait any longer.
“No matter if he loses an arm or a leg, he’s good anyway. It’s always better to see him playing.”
Ernesto Valverde lamented a poor first-half display as he suffered his first home defeat as Barcelona head coach and, after Alaves, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla claimed three points over the weekend, their lead at the top of the LaLiga table was cut to just one point.
Valverde told fcbarcelona.com: “We didn’t play well in the first half. And we just couldn’t work our way back into the game.
“We’d been on a good run. But we didn’t start this game well at all. There was something generally missing. We upped the intensity in the second half, and managed to create a lot more than we were doing before.
“It’s still nice to be going into the international break as leaders, but we always expect a lot more of ourselves.
“This season’s Liga is turning out to be very competitive and today was a reminder of how hard it is to win games.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P