Eto’o gives Barcelona deserved draw against Betis

February 15th, 2009 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry HenryMadrid, Feb 15 (DPA) Spanish leaders Barcelona had to dig deep Saturday to force a 2-2 away to lowly Betis, for whom goalkeeper Ricardo was the hero.

Barca needed two goals from league top scorer Samuel Eto’o to stretch their unbeaten run to 22 games.

Betis took an early 2-0 lead, with goals from Melli and Mark Gonzalez, but in the end were desperate to hear the final whistle.

“They came close to beating us at the end,” said Melli. “They never stopped attacking, and Ricardo had to keep us in the game.”

The draw leaves record-breaking leaders Barca 13 points ahead of Real Madrid, who are away to lively Sporting Gijon Sunday.

Melli headed Betis ahead, against the run of play, in the 18th minute, after getting ahead of his marker Sergio Busquets at a corner.

Just eight minutes later, Gonzalez made it 2-0 with one of his trademark left-foot drives.

It was the first time this season that Barca were two goals down, and Eto’o and company had to shake off their international match fatigue to pin Betis back.

They were given a dubious penalty at the end of the first half, for a supposed foul by Juande on Andres Iniesta. Ricardo saved Eto’o’s penalty, but the rebound fell kindly for the African and he scored with his left foot.

Betis’ lone striker Ricardo Oliveira had a “goal” disallowed after the restart, and later was foiled by Barca keeper Victor Valdes.

Barca lay siege to the Betis goal but were kept at bay by Ricardo, who made staggering saves from Thierry Henry and Gerard Pique.

There was nothing the Portuguese keeper could do, however, when, just six minutes from time, Eto’o skipped around the Betis defence and made it 2-2 with a powerful low drive.

Eto’o has now scored 23 league goals, six more than Valencia’s David Villa.

Fourth-placed Valencia are at home to ambitious Malaga later Saturday.

Saturday’s other early game was a colourless 0-0 draw between Deportivo Coruna and struggling Osasuna.

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