'Decisive' Messi rescues unbeaten Barcelona

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Messi began Barca's game away to Sevilla on the subs' bench due to a groin injury and it was not until around half an hour from the end that coach Ernesto Valverde made a decision to risk him.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored in the final two minutes to earn Barcelona a dramatic 2-2 draw against Sevilla and extend their unbeaten record in La Liga to 37 games.

Joaquin Correa was guilty of spurning two particularly presentable opportunities in the first half, but the Argentina worldwide made amends nine minutes before the break, setting up Franco Vazquez for a well-worked opener.

But Messi came up trumps again and he celebrated his goal, a bending long-range strike into the bottom corner, by rushing to the jubilant coaching staff and substitutes on the touchline.

'I had planned to bring on Messi anyway, ' Valverde told Movistar after the match at Sevilla. "He makes a difference every time he touches the ball".

Barcelona have now gone 37 consecutive league games since losing to Malaga in April previous year and stand one match away from equalling Real Sociedad's record set in 1980.

Barcelona will host Roma in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday night before returning to league action at home to Leganes next weekend. Valverde expects him to be available at the Camp Nou.

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Although the phenomenal forward was unable to mark any major advancements early on, the Catalan team started pushing forward as the game bordered its conclusion.

"We will see how he reacts after today's effort".

Despite having to settle for a point, Barca are still very much on course to win the La Liga title with the closest team to them, Atletico Madrid, 12 points behind.

Valverde said: "The game was very bad, because in the first half they mounted risky counterattacks after our corners, though we also had some clear opportunities". "Hence the celebration of ours. It shows the spirit of the team and that's why we're celebrating like this".

"In the second half, they were comfortable with that situation, because they have quick players like [Jesus] Navas".

With Cristiano Ronaldo rested for Real Madrid's 3-0 win at Las Palmas, Messi now has a four-goal lead over both the Portuguese icon and teammate Suarez in the race for the Pichichi.

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