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It would be a few minutes after kick-off before Sevilla were able to approach Barça’s penalty area with even a half-chance, the visitors quickly out of the blocks in Nervión. The hosts were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure as Barça’s long periods of possession set the pace and rhythm.
Sergiño Dest and Jordi Alba offered width when required, opening up a pitch which remained very congested in the midfield areas. Chances were at a premium for both sides, a super counterattack from Barça which saw Ousmane Dembélé working Sevilla keeper Bono the closest they came to scoring in the opening 25 minutes.
An exquisite pass from Leo Messi on 29 split the Sevilla defence wide open, leaving Dembélé to race through and find the Andalusians net with a well-taken shot - the first time they’d conceded in LaLiga in six games.
Papu Gomez could only find the welcoming arms of Marc-André ter Stegen as the hosts looked for a swift reply, whilst Bono was the saviour as Messi, Dembélé and Frenkie de Jong combined in an incisive move which almost doubled the lead.
Dest fired over when well placed later in the half whilst a flurry of yellow cards and crunching tackles added some extra spice to a combative and competitive encounter.
The second half started at pace and with continued intensity from both sides. Ter Stegen smothered a shot from Jesús Navas on 50, with Jordi Alba unable to get on a De Jong cross in the very next attack as play switched from end to end.
Barça grew in confidence, hitting the post through Dest and Messi uncharacteristically shooting over after being set up by Dembélé at the end of an electric run from the Frenchman.
Clément Lenglet’s header was ruled out for offside from Messi’s free-kick, as was Youssef En-Nesyri’s potential equaliser for a handball, no quarter being asked or given from either side at this stage of proceedings.
The final 10 minutes was as absorbing as the rest of the match. With Sevilla still pushing for the equaliser, a sweet one-two between Messi and Ilaix Moriba saw the Argentinian in on goal, his determination producing an error from Bono which allowed Messi to score a second - his 30th against this opponent - with five to play.
Possible injuries to Pedri and Ronald Araujo, the latter of whom had only replaced Gerard Piqué 15 minutes before, was a sour note to end the game on for the Catalans.
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