First Division - Day 23

Barcelona 4 - Betis 0

Barcelona: Bonano; Reiziger, Puyol, Frank De Boer, Sorín; Xavi, Cocu; Overmars (Luis Enrique 42'), Saviola (Dani 79'), Mendieta (Riquelme 68'); Kluivert. 4-2-3-1.
Betis: Prats; Varela, Melli, Filipescu (Rivas 46'), Mingo (César 68'); Arzu, Cañas; Joaquín, Capi (Calado 66'), Denilson; Fernando. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barcelona: No change / Betis: Mingo, Cañas for Ito, Marcos Assunçao.

1-0. 02. Saviola. On near post after Kluivert headed on Reiziger long throw.
2-0. 06. Cocu. Headed Xavi right sided corner down past Prats.
3-0. 41. Saviola. Shot from edge of area after Prats punched away Xavi free kick.
4-0. 53. Saviola. From close up after Mendieta laid back Reiziger cross.

Radomir Antic's revolution at Barcelona continued, and his side followed up their Champions League win over Inter with a 4-0 victory against a depleted Betis side missing eight of their first team squad. With six minutes on the clock they were already two goals ahead, Saviola continuing his revival under the new boss by finishing off after Kluivert headed on a long throw from Reiziger, and then Cocu heading Xavi's corner past Prats. Luck was with the Catalans as Betis pressed forward, Filipescu's header bouncing up against the crossbar, and Puyol blocking Capi's shot on the rebound. Bonano tipped a long Denilson shot over the bar, and Puyol and Sorín combined to clear another effort off the line as Betis pushed for the goal to put them back in the match.

But then with the first half coming to an end Barça scored a third against the run of play, Saviola turning the ball back into the net after Prats punched out a Xavi free kick. Referee Puentes Leira turned down appeals from the Betis defenders that Kluivert was standing in an offside position, and was to do the same again in the second half when Saviola completed his hat-trick from a dubious position after Mendieta laid back Reiziger's cross. By now Luis Enrique was on the pitch for the injured Overmars, and his enthusiasm spilled over as he squared up to Cañas after the two clashed in a tackle.

Betis didn't give up, but Puyol and Sorín had won their battle with Denilson and Joaquín, and apart from a shot by Joaquín straight at Bonano there was no real danger. Riquelme and Dani came on and showed some deft touches, and Prats saved a certain fifth goal when he somehow got a hand to Xavi's shot five minutes from the end. But the home fans were enjoying themselves once again, and their side move up to eighth in the table pending Sunday's games, now only six points behind Betis, who occupy the second UEFA spot in the table. Antic has already been canonised.