Incisive Messi leads thrilling Barca rally to lift week of gloom

Messi put on an assist clinic against Betis

But barely three minutes later, the visitors equalized the scoreline with a 9th-minute goal from Frenkie de Jong.

After one win in five league games, Sevilla drop to fifth, behind Atletico Madrid on goal difference and three points adrift of third-placed Getafe.

Messi put on an assist clinic against Betis.

But the visitors got off to a bad start when Sergio Canales gave Betis the lead in the sixth minute from the penalty spot after a VAR review showed Lenglet had handled the ball.

The Argentine captain also equalled Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho as the other player in double figures for goals and assists this campaign.

Messi proved pivotal in the Catalans levelling right before halftime, delivering a free kick into the path of Sergio Busquets who converted from close range. The six-time Ballon d'Or victor has now bagged 15 assists this season along with 19 goals in 26 appearances.

Sergio Busquets scored Barcelona's second goal in the injury time of the first half.

Fekir was sent off four minutes later before fellow Frenchman Lenglet joined him in the 79th minute.

"When you see it, you wonder how it could be that it's not a yellow card. He is behind the penalty spot and it's a shot which, if it doesn't hit his hand, is going to hit the target".

Barca coach Quique Setien was making his first appearance back at Betis since being sacked by the Seville club last May and desperately needed a victory after Real had beaten Osasuna 4-1 earlier in the day.

"We defended well and we controlled their strengths well, we're in a good moment and the players made chances to score (so) we got four goals at a hard ground, to take the three points".

'This is a very important victory because it keeps us near the top of the table and it will give us a huge psychological boost.

Two days after losing the Copa del Rey quarterfinal to Real Sociedad, Madrid were pegged back early into the game, when Unai produced a diving header to convert a corner and put Osasuna ahead in the 14th minute.

Said midfielder Casemiro: "We had just been knocked out of the Cup and this was a tough game for us mentally".

Instead, Barca turned the tide, with a chaotic performance that might have been punished by better opponents, but that keeps it three points behind Real Madrid.

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