Reuters

Magical Lionel Messi slays Sevilla to boost Barcelona title hopes

Magical Messi slays Sevilla to boost Barca title hopes
By Reuters

06/04/2017 at 08:12

La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 3 (Suarez 25', Messi 28', 33') Sevilla 0

Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win over Sevilla with a mesmerising attacking display on Wednesday thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Luis Suarez in the space of eight minutes to provisionally go above Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Suarez crashed in an emphatic overhead kick in the 25th minute after a surging run by Messi then teed up the Argentine to knock in the second three minutes later.

Messi then produced an instinctive volley for the third Barca goal in the 33rd, piling more pain on a Sevilla side who had serious title ambitions little more than a month ago but have fallen apart in recent weeks and failed to win any of their last six games in all competitions.

The Argentine also rattled the bar from outside the box early in the game and his brace took his tally to 29 goals in 30 games against Sevilla in all competitions. Messi also leads the Liga scoring charts with 27 strikes, while Suarez has 24.

"It was the first-half performance we had dreamed of," said Barca coach Luis Enrique.

"We took the game to them as much as possible, we had more of the ball, we scored three goals and had a lot of chances, which says a lot when you consider the quality of our opponents. Things changed in the second half but everything was under control."

TALKING POINT - Iniesta back to his best at 700

In a week when 35-year-old tennis miracle worker Roger Federer is being lauded for his powers of recovery, a special mention should go to the energy and class of 32-year-old Andres Iniesta at the heart of the home midfield in his 700th appearance for the Catalan side.

Messi on the move.

Messi on the move.Eurosport

A lot of critics questioned his legs after the 4-0 pummelling by PSG in the Champions League last 16 in February, but he is obviously back to his majestic best with his ability to get about the pitch not in doubt either.

If he can avoid injury between now and the end of the season, great things can happen for this Barca side.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi

What can you say about the man? Forced to miss a match when Barcelona proved they can live without him in the 4-1 win at Granada, he returns to prove they can't live without him. The skill levels are obviously exceptional, but he is only special because there is an end product. His two finishes were items of typical beauty with Barca genuinely re-energised in their quest for a Liga and Champions League double.

KEY STATS

  • Lionel Messi has scored in each of his last eight games against Sevilla in La Liga (12 goals)
  • Messi is up to 499 career goals for Barca
  • Andres Iniesta made seven recoveries, more than any other player in the first half oF the match
  • Luis Suárez has provided more assists than any other player in the top five European leagues in 2017
  • Lionel Messi scored 29 goals against Sevilla in all competitions, his favourite opponent for Barcelona

Stats via Opta

KEY MOMENTS

25' GOAL What a fantastic finish from Suarez! Only he could score a goal like that! The ball popped up after a Messi cross into the area, but with his back to goal Suarez sends an overhead kick past Rico and into the net.

28' GOAL The patience that Barcelona showed in scoring that goal! Neymar got to the byline, squared a pass to Suarez at the back post, who cuts it back for Messi to slide a finish past Rico.

Barcelona celebrate Suarez goal.

Barcelona celebrate Suarez goal.AFP

33' GOAL Only 33 minutes have been played and Barcelona look to be out of sight already. This time a loose ball inside the penalty area is emphatically buried by Messi on the full volley. Another great goal!

90+1' RED CARD! Vitolo has been shown a red card for a kick on Neymar. He was already on a yellow card and the referee has no choice but to flash him a second one. What was he thinking?

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7, Roberto 7, Pique 7 (Lucas Digne 77'), Umtiti 7, Mascherano 87, Busquets 8, Rakitic 8, Iniesta 9, Neymar 8, Messi 9, Suarez 9 (Paco Alcácer 65')

Sevilla: Rico 6, Pareja 5, Mercado 5 (Pablo Sarabia 45'), Lenglet 5, Mariano 5, N'Zonzi 6, Iborra 6 (Stevan Jovetic 76'), Escudero 6, Vitolo 6, Correa 6, Nasri 6 (Matías Kranevitter 45')

MATCH IN A TWEET

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