A double from Lionel Messi guided Barcelona back to the top of La Liga as they came from behind to beat Sevilla 4-1 in atrocious weather conditions on Sunday. Alberto Moreno had fired Sevilla into a deserved early lead, but Barca were level in controversial circumstances when Alexis Sanchez bundled home Messi’s free-kick from an offside position.
Messi then took over with a wonderful half-volley to give his side the lead at half-time. The Argentine produced another fine finish 11 minutes after the restart before Cesc Fabregas rounded off the scoring three minutes from time. The Spanish champions now lead a three-way tie at the top of La Liga on goal difference with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid also on 57 points. Barca boss Gerardo Martino had sprung a surprise before kick-off by leaving Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas on the bench, and the visitors started extremely poorly. Moreno’s low strike was deflected past Victor Valdes by his own defender Marc Bartra, but Barca were lucky not to be further behind in the opening 30 minutes.
Carlos Bacca was unlucky to see his glancing header come back off the base of the post before Ivan Rakitic fired wide from close range with only Valdes to beat. Barcelona were handed a lifeline 10 minutes before half-time when the assistant referee failed to spot that Sanchez was in an offside position as he turned Messi’s free-kick into the net via his back. However, there was no doubt over Barca’s second as a flowing counter-attack from the edge of their own box ended with Messi volleying home his first goal from open play in 10 league games.
Sevilla had a series of opportunities to equalise at the beginning of the second-half as Vitolo shot wide when clean through before Kevin Gameiro also fired off target after Valdes had parried Bacca’s curling from range.