Is there any more inevitable ending than the late Sergio Ramos winner with Real Madrid in strife?
Once again Los Blancos captain fantastic rode to his side’s rescue to secure a vital three points on a huge day in the La Liga title race.
After Barcelona suffered a hangover from their Champions League heroics in midweek, Madrid threatened to waste the chance to move top of La Liga when Keylor Navas threw the ball into his own net midway through the first-half.
Navas shouldn’t even have been on the pitch by that point as he hacked down Darko Brasanac when the last man just outside his area, but was somehow unpunished.
Cristiano Ronaldo levelled with a bullet header just before half-time.
And when Cristiano Piccini was shown a second yellow card 13 minutes from time, a late Real winner seemed inevitable.
It was, as was the source, as Ramos moved Madrid two points clear of Barca at the top of the table and with a game in hand still to come.
Navas’s days are numbered
Navas’s erratic goalkeeping in recent weeks has cranked up the gears on the rumour mill over whether Madrid will go for David de Gea or Thibaut Courtois in the summer.
Even if they don’t land one of the Premier Leagues two stand out stoppers, Madrid will surely get an upgrade on the Costa Rican.
How he escaped a red card for chopping down Brasanac just outside his area 20 minutes in only referee Mateu Lahoz can answer.
However, Navas soon made some sort of amends in Betis eyes by inexplicably turning the ball into his own net after he had appeared to have Antonio Sanabria’s effort under his grasp.
And he made another quality save in injury time from Sanabria again.
La Liga’s competitiveness deserves credit
Never has the misnomer still peddled by some that La Liga is a two or, at tops, four-team league been more shown up than this weekend.
Barcelona travelled to Deportivo la Coruna fresh from hammering PSG 6-1 and were promptly handed a 2-1 defeat by a side that started the day just one place above the relegation zone.
Lowly Leganes took a point and deserved more away at Sevilla on Saturday, whilst Atletico Madrid needed an Antoine Griezmann winner six minutes from time to sneak past third bottom Granada.
Betis travelled to the Bernabeu in 14th and with one of the worst away records in the league, yet had decisions gone their way could also have easily caused an upset.
Ronaldo number nine transition continues
Once again Ronaldo used his head to drag Madrid level as his transition from one-time flying winger to delay centre-forward continues apace.
The World Player of the Year now has five goals in his last six games, all of which have either been from headers or the penalty spot.
Madrid pounce on Barca flop
Barca’s first league defeat since October opened the door for Madrid to move back to the top of the table and with a game in hand still to come.
Not for the first time this season, Madrid didn’t make it easy for themselves but they again got the job done.
Zidane’s men have shown an ability to grind out a series of results when not playing well which Barca haven’t this season and that is why they remain in the drivers’ seat for a first league title in five years.
Get ready for more conspiracy theories
In the wake of the furore over German referee Denis Aytekin generous calls to Barcelona in the biggest Champions League comeback in midweek, Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane claimed on Saturday the European champions didn’t need “anyone” to help the win.
Those words will be hard for Betis fans to swallow after Lahoz bottled a game-changing decision when Navas should of seen red.
As usual in Spain, though, it will be in Barcelona rather than Seville where most anger is spouted with the title on the line.