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The team celebrates the goal scored by Lionel Messi

The team celebrates the goal scored by Lionel Messi | MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

In a dress rehearsal for the Copa del Rey final later this month, the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán played host to a magnificent advert for La Liga. Franco Vázquez slid Sevilla into a 36th-minute lead which was doubled after the break by Luis Muriel. Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi salvaged a point for Barça with two goals in a minute late on.

A lively opening saw both teams go straight on the attack, with Luis Suárez forcing a sharp save out of Sergio Rico as early as the third minute. The Uruguayan was also unlucky when his snap shot narrowly whistled past the upright.

COMMANDING

Philippe Coutinho was the next Barça man to get a shot on target, as the visitors sought to take the initiative. At the other end, Barça’s back four managed to keep Sevilla at arms length, with Marc-André ter Stegen commanding his area when required.

Nine minutes before the break, Franco Vázquez slid home the opener for the Andalusians from inside the six-yard box and, in-keeping with the rest of the half, there were more chances for either side before the referee’s whistle brought a halt to proceedings.

INFLUENCE

Luis Muriel put the hosts further ahead within five minutes of the restart, the ball diverted agonisingly out of ter Stegen’s reach and in off of the upright. That forced Ernesto Valverde to introduce Lionel Messi just before the hour mark and his influence was immediate.

Three chances in as many minutes for the visitors saw the Blaugrana take the upper hand, though Sevilla would have the lion’s share of chances in the latter stages. Their inability to convert any of them offered Barça hope, and late pressure from the visitors got its reward.

NOTHING TO LOSE

Ivan Rakitic’s deft header bounced back off of the upright on 87 minutes, but in the very next attack, Luis Suárez acrobatically pulled a goal back. With nothing to lose, Barça poured forward, and within 55 seconds of their first, Lionel Messi’s pinpoint finish secured a point for a side who are now one game away from equalling the all-time La Liga record for consecutive unbeaten games.

Barça are next in action against AS Roma in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The match at the Camp Nou kicks off at 8.45pm CET on Wednesday, April 4.

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