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Torrential rain in Barcelona had an effect on the size of the crowd at the Camp Nou but those in attendance were treated to an efficient performance from Barça, who earned all three points thanks to Paco Alcácer’s double.
The hosts had a handful of chances to open the scoring in the first 10 minutes of Lionel Messi’s 600th appearance for the club, and Sevilla’s under pressure players were left chasing shadows for the most part during those early exchanges.
Restricting their visitors to the occasional foray, Barça controlled possession and the ebb and flow of the first half. Andrés Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Messi contributed at both ends of the pitch but it was Alcácer, on his return to the starting XI, that gave the hosts the lead on 23, taking advantage of Sergio Escudero’s mistake.
The defensive solidity that has become the hallmark of Ernesto Valverde’s team was again on show, and on the odd occasion that Sevilla did manage to break through, Marc-André ter Stegen was equal to anything that came his way.
Eduardo Berizzo’s men were much more offensive at the beginning of the second period and Guido Pizarro rose highest at a corner to head home the equaliser just before the hour. Within two minutes Gerard Pique had hit the woodwork, which is becoming a common theme for Barça this season.
A typical striker’s finish from Alcàcer restored the lead but it would be his last action of the night. As the rain continued to fall, the greasy surface made life difficult for both sides, but Barça’s toil was rewarded with the win that keeps them clear at the top of the table going into the international break.
Barça are back in La Liga action on Saturday, November 18, against Leganés at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque (kick-off 4.15pm CET).
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