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Messi scores as Barca rebounds

AP
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Photo: reuters
Photo: reuters

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi extended his league-record scoring run to 15 straight games in a 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday, three days before the Spanish leaders’ Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.

Barcelona striker David Villa cancelled out Alberto Botia’s opener with a header in the 52nd before Messi grabbed the winner in the 60th with his league-best 38th goal through 25 rounds.

Madrid, meanwhile, needed Kaka to score his first goal in the Spanish league this season and cue Gonzalo Higuain’s late winner to come from behind and win 2-1 at Deportivo La Coruna.

With the Spanish title all but secured, Barcelona’s priorities are the Champions League and the domestic cup.

It meets Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium on Tuesday for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. The first leg in Madrid finished 1-1.

Barcelona’s 11th win in 12 league home games moved it 15 points off second-placed Atletico Madrid, which plays Espanyol on Sunday.

“You could see we came into this game off a poor result, but we were able to pull out the win,” said Messi. “It’s tough not to think about Milan. We know we didn’t play our best game in the San Siro, even if it wasn’t a reason to completely fall apart.”

Sevilla resisted well early on and its plan paid dividends three minutes before halftime when it struck through its first incursion into Barcelona’s area from a free kick by Ivan Rakitic. Botia, a former Barcelona youth player, rose over his marker to turn Jorge “Coke” Andujar’s cross bouncing off the turf and beyond the reach of goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Frustrated in its attempts to penetrate through the middle, Barcelona turned to the more traditional cross-and-volley route as Dani Alves picked out Villa strolling down the middle of the box to thump his lobbed pass home for the equalizer.

Messi put Barcelona ahead for good when he slotted in a pass from Cristian Tello after he had started the move by playing Tello wide.AP


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