Late goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi allowed Barcelona to avoid their first defeat of the 2017-18 LaLiga season and earn a 2-2 draw against a spirited Sevilla side on Saturday night at the Sanchez Pizjuan in Sevilla.
Franco “Mudo” Vazquez gave Sevilla a deserved 1-0 lead toward the end of the first-half, before Luis Muriel doubled the advantage early in the second-half, but Barcelona’s champion spirit bore out in the end, as Suarez and Messi struck to earn the Catalonians the point.
With Messi held out of manager Ernesto Valverde’s starting XI as a precaution, Barcelona looked flat at the start and Sevilla did well to keep the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Suarez in check, but Messi’s entrance at the hour amrk would serve as the catalyst for the comeback.
Barcelona did show some spunk in the first few minutes and almost had a lead through Luis Suarez, but his one-timed effort sailed wide.
Soon enough Sevilla took control and were on the front foot. Twice, Sergi Roberto was called on to block shots from Joaquin Correa and Mudo Vazquez, and then a Correa header almost broke the deadlock, but it spun wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal.
Sevilla finally managed to breach the Barcelona defence when Correa slipped in a pass to an unmarked Vazquez and the latter calmly turned it in past Ter Stegen to hand Sevilla a 1-0 lead.
Barcelona looked to equalise quickly and Gerard Pique had a chance minutes before half-time but could connect at the far post on a ball floated in by fellow centre-back Samuel Umtiti.
Sevilla were keen to keep their momentum going and in the early stages of the second stanza they got their second. Barcelona were unable to get out of their own half, and it led to a Vazquez chance that Ter Stegen blocked, but the rebound fell perfectly for Muriel, who fired in for the 2-0 lead.
Barcelona were reeling and it should have been three for the home side when Navas bore down on Ter Stegen. The German stopper delayed Navas enough for Pique to retreat and the Barcelona defender was able to clear Navas’ shot off the line. The rebound fell to Vazquez, who inexplicably missed wide.
Valverde could not wait any longer and just shy of the hour mark Dembele was hauled off for Messi, and unsurprisingly Barcelona were a much dangerous team with the Argentine on the pitch.
But the risks that Barcelona had to take in attack also yielded chances for Sevilla to counter, and Muriel had the third on his right-foot but missed wide. Later on it was Miguel Layun presented with a chance, but his right-footer skipped wide.
It looked for all the world that Sevilla would see things out, but as long as Messi is on the pitch, there is always a chance. Moments after an Ivan Rakitic header hit the post, Suarez cut into the lead by pouncing on a loose ball in the area to make it just a 2-1 affair.
Barcelona were brimming with belief and launched another attack that saw Coutinho play a pass back that Suarez let roll by for Messi, who curled in a left-footer very similar to the stroke that beat Real Madrid in last spring’s Clasico to even the match at 2-2.
There was a late penalty shout for Sevilla when Vazquez went down in the area after a push from Jordi Alba, but no call was coming, as Barcelona will gladly take the point and turn their focus to Wednesday’s Champions League visit to Roma.
2.- Sevilla: Sergio Rico; Mercado (Layun, min. 46), Kjaer, Lenglet, Escudero; Nzonzi, Banega, Navas (Nolito, min. 82), Correa (Pizarro, min. 72); Vazquez, Muriel.
2.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Paulinho (Denis Suarez, min. 77), Iniesta (Alcacer, min. 82); Dembele (Messi, min. 58), Suarez, Coutinho
Goals: 1-0, min. 37: Vazquez; 2-0, min. 50: Vazquez; 2-1, min. 88: Suarez; 2-2, min. 89: Messi
Referee: Gonzalez Gonzalez (Leon y Castilla). Yellow Cards: Mercado (Min. 34) for Sevilla
Red cards: None
Stadium: Sanchez Pizjuan