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Messi hits his 500th Barca goal as his side get back on track

The Spanish champions beat Sevilla 2-1.

Image: Rui Vieira

LIONEL MESSI, WITH his 500th Barcelona goal, and Luis Suarez saved the Spanish champions from a second defeat in six days as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Sevilla.

Victory keeps Barca just two points adrift of Real Madrid, who were 3-0 victors over Leganes thanks to a double from Gareth Bale.

Messi inspired a spirited Barca fightback fresh from a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday after a first-half dominated by Sevilla.

The hosts had two shots on goal inside 50 seconds, but Barca broke forward from a Sevilla corner at lightning speed and Suarez’s effort from Neymar’s layoff was brilliantly saved by Sergio Rico.

Sevilla remained on the front foot for most of the first-half and got their reward on 15 minutes when Pablo Sarabia’s pass bamboozled Sergi Roberto and Vitolo charged through to open the scoring.

Sarabia passed up a great chance to make it two when he took the bizarre decision to backheel the ball towards the edge of the area when he had just Marc-Andre ter Stegen to beat.

Barca made Sevilla pay with another brilliant counter-attack to level two minutes before half-time as this time Messi curled Neymar’s pass into the bottom corner.

The goal was Messi’s 500th for Barca including friendlies, but he should have had more after the break as only a brilliant block from Mariano and save from Rico prevented the Barca captain turning the game around.

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Messi turned provider for the winner just after the hour mark as he teed up Suarez to drill the ball low past Rico.

Rico produced an incredible stop to prevent Suarez making it 3-1, but a huge error from Ter Stegen at the other end nearly cost Barca the win as he flapped at a corner and Steven N’Zonzi headed inches wide the goal gaping.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid beat Leganes 3-0 earlier today, while Villareal and Celta Vigo had wins over Real Betis and Valencia respectively.

– © AFP 2016

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