Lionel Messi started Barcelona’s La Liga clash against Real Betis on Sunday on the bench but arrived in the second half and continued his incredible goalscoring record against Los Verdiblancos.
The visitors were trailing 1-0 when Messi replaced Riqui Puig after 57 minutes at the Benito Villamarin Stadium. It took the captain a matter of minutes to level the scores with his 17th goal of the season in all competitions.
The goal means that Messi has now scored 26 goals in just 24 appearances against Real Betis for Barcelona. The 33-year-old is also on a particularly hot streak against Betis with nine goals in his last six matches against the Andalusian team, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Messi’s Crazy Pass
Messi did far more than just bag an equalizer for Barcelona too. The 33-year-old played a key role in his team’s second goal that put the Catalan giants 2-1 ahead.
The forward showed incredible vision to play a ball through to Jordi Alba. The left-back squared the ball to Antoine Griezmann who made a mess of the finish but eventually saw the ball come off defender Victor Ruiz and roll into the back of the net.
It was not the prettiest goal Barcelona will ever score, but the pass from Messi certainly caught the eye and came in for plenty of praise on social media.
Ruiz managed to make amends by heading Real Betis level before substitute Francisco Trincao opened his account for Barcelona in some style. The 21-year-old curled home the winning goal to secure a sixth straight La Liga win for the Catalan giants.
Koeman Talks Resting Messi
Manager Koeman spoke about his team’s win and his decision to rest some key players after the full-time whistle. Messi was not the only player left out of the starting XI against Real Betis, as Frenkie de Jong and Pedri also started on the bench.
De Jong was needed early on in the game to replace Ronald Araujo, who went off with an ankle injury, while Pedri came on at half-time to try and help Barca find a way back into the match after going 1-0 down.
Messi and Trincao also arrived in the second half, and Koeman told reporters he was not happy with his team’s performance in the opening 45 minutes, as reported by Marca.
We have rotated players who have played many minutes and games. Araujo’s injury has complicated things even more. We must highlight the mentality of the team, in a tough game we have won with quality and shown important character.
For me, the first half was not very good. We needed to open up the team more when we had the ball. When we lost balls we reacted late. I have not seen the team with much spark in the first half.
Barca return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Sevilla for the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Messi will be expected to return to the starting XI for the game at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium as Barca try to secure a place in the final against Athletic or Levante.