Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona: Lionel Messi helps Barcelona maintain unbeaten record
By Oliver Young-Myles
Last Updated: 01/04/18 10:02am
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored in the final two minutes to earn Barcelona a dramatic 2-2 draw against Sevilla and extend their unbeaten record in La Liga to 37 games.
Sevilla took the lead in the first half thanks to Franco Vazquez's close-range finish before Luis Muriel doubled the home side's advantage shortly after half-time.
It looked as though Sevilla would become the first team to beat Barcelona in the league this season before Suarez set up a nervy finish with an emphatic volley in the 88th minute.
Then just 55 seconds later, Messi, who had come on as a substitute in the 57th minute, swept a trademark strike from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to complete a miraculous turnaround.
Sevilla: Rico (5), Mercado (5), Kjaer (7), Lenglet (6), Escudero (7), Navas (6), Banega (6), N'Zonzi (8), Correa (7), Vazquez (7), Muriel (6)
Subs: Layun (6), Pizarro (6), Nolito (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Roberto (7), Pique (5), Umtiti (5), Alba (6), Paulinho (5), Iniesta (6), Rakitic (6), Coutinho (6), Dembele (6), Suarez (7)
Subs: Messi (7), Alcacer (6), D. Suarez (6)
Man of the match: Steven N'Zonzi
Barcelona were below-par for much of the first half but they went close to scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes. First, Andres Iniesta looped a lob from distance just wide after Sergio Rico's poor clearance before Suarez flashed a shot agonisingly off target after being teed up perfectly by Jordi Alba.
However, after that bright start, Barcelona dropped off and Sevilla seized the initiative. Muriel mistimed his jump at the far post to nod a header wide from under the crossbar before Joaquin Correa headed an effort into the ground and wide after being picked out by Jesus Navas.
Sevilla eventually made their pressure count with 36 minutes on the clock as Vazquez turned in Correa's cut-back from close range with a smart finish. Somehow, the Italy international found himself completely unmarked in the six-yard-box and there was an inquest between Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti in the aftermath of the goal.
The hosts continued to carve out the greater chances at the start of the second half and deservedly went 2-0 in front after 50 minutes thanks to Muriel's strike. Sergio Escudero waltzed into the penalty area untracked and lashed a shot at Marc-Andre ter Stegen with Muriel converting the rebound with a side-footed finish that took a nick off Umtiti on its way in.
Ernesto Valverde had no option but turn to Messi just before the hour mark with Ousmane Dembele making way and while the Argentine improved Barcelona's play immediately, Sevilla still carried a threat on the counter-attack, missing good chances to extend their lead through Muriel, Miguel Layun and Navas.
Lionel Messi was left on the bench as a precaution after struggling with a muscle problem while Sergio Busquets was not in the squad due to recent injury problems.Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez came into the side in place of Messi and Paco Alcacer.Sevilla made four changes with Gabriel Mercado, Jesus Navas, Joaquin Correa and Luis Muriel coming into the team.
As is so often the case, though, their profligacy came back to haunt them as Barcelona staged a remarkable comeback. Substitute Paco Alcacer had the desired impact as he nodded a corner towards the far post where Suarez was lurking and the Uruguay striker smashed his volley high into the roof of the net to bring Barcelona back into it.
Less than a minute later they equalised as Messi ran onto a wayward cut-back by Philippe Coutinho and bent a wicked shot beyond the despairing dive of Rico and into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal to maintain Barcelona's record as the only unbeaten team in Europe's top five leagues this season.
Man of the match - Steven N'Zonzi
Sevilla put in a Herculean effort but if one player deserved to be on the winning side more than most it was Steven N'Zonzi as he dominated the midfield battle against Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta.
The France midfielder was superb in possession, setting a number of Sevilla's various attacking moves in motion while he always seemed to be in the perfect place to halt Barcelona in their tracks.
Although they were sloppy in allowing Barcelona back into the game so far, Sevilla's defenders (N'Zonzi included) should be absolved of too much criticism as it was their forward players who failed to finish Barcelona off through erratic finishing.
Barcelona's next game is the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Roma on Wednesday before they switch their attention back to the league against Leganes on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football at 7.40pm.
Sevilla face Bayern Munich on Tuesday night and then travel to Celta Vigo on Saturday.