Lionel Messi’s cameo appearance was enough for FC Barcelona to secure two dramatic late equalisers in a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.
Earlier in the first half, Franco Vazquez had opened the scoring for Sevilla from close range in and the Colombia international Luis Muriel doubled the home side’s lead by smashing in on the rebound five minutes into the second half.
Messi had began the game on the bench due to continued muscle discomfort which caused him to miss Argentina’s friendlies against Italy and Spain; but the league’s top scorer was called into action in the 58th minute, replacing Ousmane Dembele.
However, Ernesto Valverde saw his men being instantly lifted by the Argentine’s arrival and Luis Suarez rattled the near post but Sevilla continued to pour forward with Vazquez and Muriel missed clear chances to put the game to bed.
The team then paid dearly for their wastefulness as Suarez pulled one back for Barca with an acrobatic finish in the 88th minute following a corner and Messi whipped in the equaliser in the 89th with a fierce left-foot strike from the edge of the box.
The goal stretched the Catalans’ unbeaten league run to 37 games; if they avoid defeat next week at home to Leganés they will equal Real Sociedad’s Liga record of 38 games without defeat, which has stood since 1980.
Barca kept their impervious lead at the top the standings on 76 points, although second-placed Atletico Madrid defeated Deportivo La Coruna with a Kevin Gameiro penalty on Sunday their advantage at the top at nine points.