Late show #1

Messi rescues point and Barca's unbeaten run

Barcelona substitute Lionel Messi striking from the edge of the box in the 89th minute. He scored to earn Barca a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.
Barcelona substitute Lionel Messi striking from the edge of the box in the 89th minute. He scored to earn Barca a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • He was forced to watch his country's humiliating 6-1 defeat by Spain on Tuesday from the stands due to continued muscle discomfort.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi was again a hapless spectator as he witnessed Barcelona trail sixth-placed Sevilla 0-2 in LaLiga.

That was until Barca boss Ernesto Valverde threw on the talisman as a substitute for Ousmane Dembele in the 58th minute.

The Spanish giants were instantly lifted by the Argentinian's arrival and, shortly after coming on, Luis Suarez rattled the near post but Sevilla continued to pour forward.

Barca looked on course for a first league defeat since losing at Malaga last April but Suarez pulled one back with an acrobatic finish in the 88th minute before Messi whipped in the equaliser a minute later with a venomous left-footed strike.

His equaliser stretched the Catalans' unbeaten run in the league to 37 games and, if they avoid defeat this week at home to Leganes, they will equal Real Sociedad's LaLiga record of 38 games without defeat, which has stood since 1980.

"Every time he touches the ball, he is decisive but we all knew that already," said Valverde, who alluded to what happened to a Messi-less Argentina against Spain.

"Every team would be different with or without Messi, and I won't mention what happened a few days ago. We had planned for him to play even though he still has a bit of discomfort. He had gone a bit of time without playing (because of a hamstring injury) and he needed to play."

Suarez said of his irrepressible strike partner: "That is what Leo is all about as he keeps on showing us again and again."

Barcelona face Roma away in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2018, with the headline 'Messi rescues point and Barca's unbeaten run'. Print Edition | Subscribe