Quique Setien was pleased by the manner of Barcelona’s comeback victory at former club Real Betis as the La Liga title race heats up.
Having bowed out of the Copa del Rey to Athletic Bilbao on the back of a public spat between Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal, Barca could ill-afford a tough week getting worse at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Real Madrid’s comprehensive win at Osasuna earlier on Sunday ratcheted up the pressure on Barca, who fell behind after just six minutes when Sergio Canales struck home from the spot.
Frenkie de Jong swiftly equalised, only for Nabil Fekir to put Betis back ahead in stunning fashion.
Sergio Busquets took the wind out of the hosts’ sails on the stroke of half-time with another equaliser, before Clement Lenglet wrapped up a 3-2 win.
Barca’s match-winner and Fekir were sent off towards the end of a night that left head coach Setien pleased – and his side within three points of table-topping Real Madrid.
“I really liked the team,” he said after the match in quotes reported by Marca. “You have to give these things value.
“There are things we could have done better, but I’m happy.
“They pressed us a lot.
“We had a complicated start and weren’t comfortable at any point.
“We really had to press, but they have players with a lot of ability.
“Fekir played an extraordinary game and it was hard to get the ball off him, but we had our moments too.”
Messi provided the assist for all three of Barcelona’s goals in Seville, where Setien still saw room for improvement given their struggles on the road.
“We’re still missing things,” he said after his victorious return to Betis, who he managed in the previous two seasons.
“It’s a very important win that gives us points away from home, which is something that was becoming complicated.”
Versatile Barcelona star Sergi Roberto echoed his manager’s sentiments after the victory.
“The important thing was to win again away from home,” he said.
“We were hard done by in Bilbao because we created a lot (of chances).
“Our form away from the Camp Nou has cost us this season, so we’re happy.”