Barcelona produced late heroics as they came back from two goals down to clinch a 2-2 draw against an impressive Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday night.
- Sevilla 2 Barcelona 2
- Vazquez (36′) gives hosts lead at half-time
- Muriel (50′) doubles their advantage
- Suarez (88′) pulls one back for Barca
- Messi (89′) snatches a point
Ernesto Valverde’s side was far from their best on returning from the international break and found themselves trailing 2-0 after 50 minutes. Franco Vazquez opened the scoring in the 36th minute before Luis Muriel doubled Los Rojiblancos’ lead early in the second half.
Lionel Messi’s appearance from the bench sparked a late fightback from the Catalan giants as Luis Suarez pulled one back two minutes from time and the Argentine icon ensured their unbeaten record this season remained intact.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) March 31, 2018
Messi started on the bench having not played in either of Argentina’s friendlies during the international break due to fitness concerns.
Barca looked out of sorts without their talisman and the hosts took full advantage with a fine attacking display on the night.
The league leaders did create the first chance of the match on nine minutes, though, as Luis Suarez fired a shot across Sergio Rico and wide of the right post from 12 yards out on the left after being picked out by Jordi Alba’s cut-back.
Vincenzo Montella’s men soon got into their rhythm and Muriel went close on 16 minutes with a header that he steered wide of the left post under pressure from Alba before Joaquin Correa directed a downward header just wide at the same post from Jesus Navas’ cross on the right five minutes later.
After Muriel hit an ambitious long-range effort straight at Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Ousmane Dembele drew a routine save out of Rico at the other end on 33 minutes after cutting inside from the right and getting off a left-footed shot inside the box.
But Los Rojiblancos hit the front three minutes later as Correa’s cut-back from the left was turned home by Vazquez from the edge of the six-yard box.
The closest the visitors came to a response before half-time was in the 44th minute when Gerard Pique almost bundled in Samuel Umtiti’s deflected cross at the back post.
The Andalusian outfit got off to a flying start in the second half and doubled their lead just five minutes in. Correa managed to nip in behind the defence and got off a shot that was parried away by Ter Stegen into the path of Muriel, who fired home from 14 yards out via a deflection off Umtiti.
Navas should have put them three goals clear on 55 minutes after racing clean through on goal, but after turning to Ter Stegen’s right when the keeper went to ground, Pique got back to clear his shot on the line and Vazquez hit the side-netting on the rebound.
Simon Kjaer made a crucial interception on the hour mark to cut out Philippe Coutinho’s low cross on the right that was aimed at Suarez, while Alba passed up the opportunity to shoot moments later as he looked to find the Uruguayan at the back post, with his effort going into the side-netting.
Muriel threatened soon afterwards as he escaped his marker to advance down the left flank before firing just wide of the near post and Miguel Layun went even closer when he flashed a shot inches wide of the far post from inside the box on the right.
Messi had been introduced 13 minutes into the second half and he started to get into the action more and more in the closing stages. His first attempt at goal flew wide of the left post from 22 yards out.
Navas was then presented with two chances in the space of three minutes. After the winger fizzed the first-time strike over the crossbar from 22 yards out, he drew a low save out of Ter Stegen from inside the area on the right in the 79th minute.
Pique made a desperate block to divert Muriel’s shot over the target on 83 minutes after the Colombian was set up by Nolito before Messi forced Kjaer to turn his angled strike wide of the near post three minutes later.
The Blaugrana piled on the pressure in the final few minutes and Ivan Rakitic steered a glancing header onto the right post from Coutinho’s cross on the left in the 87th minute, but they halved the deficit moments later as Sevilla failed to deal with a corner which Suarez converted acrobatically at the back post.
Messi popped up with the equaliser in the final minute to vindicate his manager’s decision to bring him on. The Argentine ran onto a corner aimed across the box and he picked out the bottom-left corner of the net with a first-time curler from 20 yards out.