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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Messi is super sub for Barcelona to keep unbeaten Primera Liga dreams alive

Argentine forward scores equaliser to earn share of the spoils for Ernesto Valverde's men at Sevilla in 2-2 draw

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, celebrates his equaliser against Sevilla. Jose Manuel Vidal / EPA
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, celebrates his equaliser against Sevilla. Jose Manuel Vidal / EPA

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his side for not losing faith after Lionel Messi came off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser as the Primera Liga leaders fought back to draw 2-2 at Sevilla.

Franco Vazquez fired the home side, who are chasing a top-five finish, into the lead after 36 minutes and there looked no way back when Colombia forward Luis Muriel added another early in the second half.

Barca's top scorer, who has been suffering a hamstring problem, was sent on for the last 30 minutes and immediately lifted his team.

Although Sevilla had missed several chances to kill off the match, Luis Suarez set up a grandstand finish before Messi clipped in the equaliser.

The draw meant Valverde's men have extend their unbeaten LaLiga run to 37 matches and edged them closer to regaining the title, not to mention a confidence boost going into their Champions League quarter-final against Juventus.

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"We took a chance, things were not going that well for us," Valverde said in an interview on the club's website.

"In the first half, despite them creating chances, we also had some as well. It was fairly even, but they went into the break with an advantage and then scored a second just after half-time.

"They had the chance then to play on the counter-attack and when they did that we had to come back, but you know what can happen.

"However, if you have faith you can keep playing. We were looking for the goal to get us back into the game, we did and then we got the second.

"If there had been five more minutes, I don't know what would have happened.

"This will be great for the spirit of the team because we know how important the game was to keep that run without losing going."

Sevilla host German side Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Head coach Vincenzo Montella admitted it was a bittersweet result.

"I'm proud of the team. We had chances to finish the game and it was painful because Barcelona have great players," Montella said in quotes published on the club's official website.

"You're a bit angry of course and nervous (with Barcelona's comeback), but I'm also proud because the team played with confidence.

"We have to improve but football is like that.

"I think this is good for Tuesday (against Bayern) because we'll go into the game with even more enthusiasm."

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