Messi rescues Barca in thrilling win

LaLiga

FC Barcelona put on a commanding display in LaLiga to thrash Real Betis 5-2, with Lionel Messi bagging a brace off the bench at the Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman raised eyebrows as captain Lionel Messi started from the bench, but Marc-Andre Ter Stegen returned in goal with Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann up front.

A strong sav from Ter Stegen turned William Carvalho’s header away with Fati bringing Claudio Bravo to a near post save at the other end in the opening exchanges.

Barca’s accuracy showed midway through the first half when Dembele sold one challenge to cut in on his left foot before cracking the top corner to break the deadlock.

Griezmann was given a clear chance to goal from the penalty spot 33 minutes in, but Bravo guessed right to parry after Fati went tumbling in the area.

The visitors drew level on the cusp of halftime when Antonio Sanabria landed onto a square ball into the centre of the area from the left to side-foot beyond Ter Stegen.

Messi entered at the start of the second half in place of Fati, as Koeman looked to his talisman for inspiration on the field.

Griezmann brought a frustrating first spell to close when he combined with a dummy from Messi in the area for a simple tap-in shortly after the break.

Barca made it three on 61 minutes as Messi nestled the top corner from the penalty spot following a handball by Aissa Mandi, who was sent packing following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.

Betis were given a glimmer of hope in the last 20 minutes when Loren Moron arrived in the area to send Alex Moreno’s cross into the far corner.

However, Messi squandered any hopes of a comeback eight minutes from time after combining with Sergi Roberto’s cutback to drill into the top corner.

The Catalan outfit added to the visitors woes in the last minute when Pedri arrived at the far post to tuck home to give his side a commanding victory.

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