FC Barcelona registered a sixth successive LaLiga victory after defeating Real Betis 3-2 at Estadio Benito Villamarín on Sunday night.
Barca laboured to a 5-3 extra-time win over Granada in their Copa outing in midweek, and the big team news for them was that Messi was on the bench, with the 33-year-old having played 120 minutes in that game. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Jordi Alba, Ronald Araujo, Sergio Busquets and Antoine Griezmann were the five players to keep their places.
The Blaugrana suffered an early blow when Araujo injured his ankle early on and was replaced by Frenkie de Jong in the 12th minute.
Betis had the first real opportunity of the game. It was a good move from the hosts with Nabil Fekir playing a key role and ending with Juanmi heading just wide.
Soon after, the corner was played short before the ball was driven into the box by Jordi Alba and Clément Lenglet rose surely to head in from six yards but he nodded wide.
Betis took the lead in the 39th minute. From defending a Barcelona cross, the ball was worked quickly upfield with the visitors out of position and Emerson powered into the box on the right and squared for Borja Iglesias to tap home.
Ex-Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles pulled off a good save as he flung himself at a powerful strike by Oscar Mingueza. And then Ter Stegen made a great save at the other end as he reacted quickly to deny Juanmi, who ran through the defence and onto a great pass by Fekir.
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Ronald Koeman brought on Messi for Riqui Puig while Trincao came on for Miralem Pjanic on the hour mark. And Messi made the desired impact just three minutes after coming on when he received the ball from Ousmane Dembele on the right-hand side of the box and drove the ball inside the near post.
Messi was involved again in the visitors' second. The Argentine superstar found Jordi Alba inside the box with a brilliant ball, Alba squared to give Griezmann a tap in but the striker missed his shot, the ball hit the back of his other heel and then deflected in off the unfortunate Victor Ruiz.
Ruiz quickly made amends for his unfortunate own goal as he headed home from a Fekir free kick to restore matters for the home side.
There was still time for another twist in the game. Ruiz was involved again, this time losing possession to Trincao, who bent a brilliant effort in off the underside of the bar in the 86th minute to make it six wins in a row for Barca in the league.