Lionel Messi came off the bench to spark a Barcelona comeback as the Catalans fought back from 1-0 down against Real Betis to win 3-2 at the Benito Villamarin.
Messi and Pedri were both left out of the starting lineup as Ronald Koeman rotated his squad for the trip to Andalusia, but the decision backfired as Barcelona struggled to get going in the first half.
The Catalans suffered a blow when Ronald Araujo was forced off through injury after just eight minutes and Borja Iglesias gave Real Betis the lead seven minutes from half time, sliding in to get on the end of an Emerson cross into the middle.
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Pedri was thrown on for the start of the second half, but it took the introduction of Messi for Barcelona to find a final product, with the 33-year-old scoring at the near post having been on the pitch for just three minutes.
And Messi created the opportunity from which Barcelona scored their second, threading through Jordi Alba who squared for Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman fluffled his lines, but the ball bounced over the line off the legs of Victor Ruiz.
Ruiz made amends for his own goal just minutes later, though, by scoring an equaliser at the right end of the pitch, rising highest to get on the end of a Nabil Fekir freekick and head past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barcelona, however, still managed to find a winner three minutes from the end when substitute Francisco Trincao won a ball inside the opposition box and lashed home a left-footed finish off the underside of the bar.
The result sees Barcelona, who have now won six games in a row in all competitions, move up to second place in the La Liga table, once again leapfrogging rivals Real Madrid and Sevilla despite their respective victories on Saturday.
TALKING POINT - Barcelona now face a nervous wait on news of Ronald Araujo’s injury
Koeman made the decision to rotate his squad for this match in an attempt to avoid fatigue and injuries over a busy stretch of fixtures for Barcelona. But it was one of the players he didn’t rotate, and one of Barca’s most important players, who suffered an injury early on, with Araujo coming off with a sprained ankle. The Uruguayan has been a real success story for the Catalans this season, stepping in to fill the void of the injured Gerard Pique. Barcelona simply can’t afford another injury to one of their defenders.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
He was only on the pitch for just over half an hour, but Messi did more than anyone else in that time. The 33-year-old’s introduction off the bench completely changed the game. All of a sudden, there was an energy about Barcelona’s attacking play. It even prompted Real Betis to counter attack at greater speed. This was quite simply a better match with Messi involved and it was he who ultimately proved the difference for Barca in this fast and furious encounter at the Benito Villamarin.
Real Betis: Robles 7, Emerson 7, Mandi 6, Ruiz 6, Moreno 7, Akouokou 6, Guardado 5, Ruibal 6, Fekir 8, Juanmi 6, Borja 8. Subs: Tello 5, Canales 7, Rodriguez 5, Moron 6.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 8, Mingueza 6, Araujo 3, Lenglet 4, Alba 6, Pjanic 4, Busquets 6, Puig 4, Griezmann 6, Braithwaite 5, Dembele 7. Subs: Messi 8, Pedri 7, Umtiti 3, de Jong 7, Trincao 7.
9’ Araujo injury! This could be a big problem for Barcelona! Araujo has gone down after an awkward fall and the Catalans could be forced into a change here. Araujo has been very impressive this season. Indeed, he’s coming off.
38’ GOAL! Real Betis 1-0 Barcelona: The deadlock has been broken and it's Borja who has found the back of the net! Real Betis launched a counter attack, the pass was played out to Emerson, he squared a low cross into the Barcelona box and Borja side-foots the finish home!
59’ GOAL! Real Betis 1-1 Barcelona: Well, that didn't take long. Messi has been on the pitch for a matter of seconds and he has equalised for Barcelona. Dembele managed to play the pass to the Argentine under pressure and he finds the bottom corner of the Real Betis net!
68’ GOAL! Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona: Barcelona have turned this game around! Messi threaded Alba in behind, he squared the pass for Griezmann, who fluffed his opportunity. However, the ball bounced off the legs of Ruiz behind him and over his own goal line. Unfortunate.
76’ GOAL! Real Betis 2-2 Barcelona: Ruiz has made amends for his own goal! This time the Real Betis has scored at the right end of the pitch, rising highest to head home a freekick delivery into the Barcelona box. An excellent response from the home side to falling behind!
87’ GOAL! Real Betis 2-3 Barcelona: What a strike! Is that the winner for Barcelona? Trincao scores his first La Liga goal and what a goal! Trincao won a ball in the Betis penalty area and then lashed home a left-footed finsh off the underside of the crossbar!
- Lionel Messi has scored six goals in his last four La Liga appearances for Barcelona.
- Messi scored just 136 seconds after coming off the bench, his fastest goal as a substitute for Barcelona.
- Victor Ruiz became the first player to score a goal and an own goal in a single La Liga game against Barcelona this century.
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