Real Betis hold Barcelona to a draw

Madrid, January 25:

Rafael Marquez’s 61st-minute equaliser gave FC Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Real Betis and handed the defending champions a one-point lead in the Spanish league.

Barcelona again fell short of their best form and continued a rough patch in which they have won just two of the last seven league matches. After 19 games, Barcelona have 39 points, while Sevilla and Madrid each have 38.

Betis stifled Barcelona in the first half with Javier Saviola missing the visitors’ only chance when he went wide with an angled shot in the 34th. Three minutes later, Brazilian striker Robert headed Betis into the lead.

Barca began the second half better and defender Marquez soon levelled when his glancing header from Deco’s corner found its way past a desperate dive by Betis keeper Toni Doblas.

English League Cup

LONDON: Julio Baptista scored two goals for Arsenal after conceding an own-goal in drawing Tottenham 2-2 in an English League Cup semi-final on Wednesday. After Dimitar Berbatov gave Spurs a 12th-minute lead, Baptista made it 2-0 when he deflected a free kick into his own net in the 20th.

But the Brazilian scored in the 64th and 77th minutes to capture a draw, and the Gunners regained favoritism for the second leg at Emirates Stadium on January 31. The winner will face Chelsea in the February 25 final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Chelsea reached its second League Cup final in three seasons by beating League Two’s Wycombe 4-0 on Tuesday, advancing 5-1 overall. — AP