Barcelona booked a place in the next season’s UEFA Champions League after they secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Real Betis away from home on Saturday night.
Having failed to break the deadlock for over an hour, the Catalans took the lead in the 76th minute through substitute Ansu Fati. However, Los Verdiblancos hit back almost immediately, with ex-Barça ace Marc Bartra equalising for the hosts.
With no goals forthcoming, it looked like the game was headed for a draw, but Jordi Alba had other ideas. The veteran left-back produced a sensational volley after getting on the end of Dani Alves’ cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time to fire Barcelona to a win.
With the victory, the Catalans’ top-four place in La Liga is confirmed, meaning they have now qualified for the Champions League next term.
Speaking after the game, match-winner Alba expressed his relief at the team ensuring a Champions League berth for next season, saying: “Yes, that’s right. We started winning late, we wasted a few points this season, but we improved over time.”
However, he expressed his dismay at not being able to compete for the league title, but vowed to do so from next season onwards.
“We’ve arrived too late to compete for this league title. Barcelona will always compete for all the titles. We have to win next season’s La Liga. We have the squad and the technical staff to do it,” he added.
Talking about the victory, the veteran defender said: “After the subs, we played better. It’s a good and important win against a very difficult opponent.”
Alba also had words of praise for Ansu Fati, who scored in just his second appearance after returning from a lengthy injury layoff. “Ansu is a young player with a great sense for goals. We saw what happened today,” the Spaniard said.
Speaking of his own screamer that won the game, Alba said: “I saw the pass clearly coming, and such opportunities need to be scored. That’s what happened. We got lucky in the end, and I was lucky to score the winner.”
Following the last-gasp win against Betis, Barcelona will next take on Celta Vigo next Tuesday.