Magical Messi silences Sevilla

Lionel Messi was at his mesmerising best against Sevilla once more as his two goals and assist secured Barcelona a comfortable 3-0 victory on Wednesday.

Samuel Umtiti started at left-back for an otherwise-full strength Barca against Sevilla, who started the game without a recognised striker.

Messi had scored 27 goals against Sevilla in all competitions, his favourite opponents alongside Atletico Madrid. Barca were also on a 13-game unbeaten run against the Andalusians, who were without a win in five.

The Argentine needed just a couple of minutes to bend a shot onto Sevilla’s crossbar, with Sergio Rico only able to stand and watch.

Steven N’Zonzi, however, had no idea that he was onside when a slide-rule ball was played into his path in the Barca penalty area. The midfielder could only side-foot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s legs from point-blank range.

That miss, coupled with Vitolo’s missed free header, was soon pounced on by Luis Suarez. Messi’s pinpoint delivery found the No 9, who took a touch before unleashing an overhead kick past Rico.

The Catalans soon doubled their lead when Neymar got to the left-hand byline and cut the ball back for Suarez, who then teed up Messi for a tap-in.

Barca were looking like their free-flowing selves towards the end of their treble-winning, 2014-15 campaign as a clearing header fell straight to Messi, who smacked home a low volley for his second of the evening.

Messi couldn’t help himself against Jorge Sampaoli’s out-of-sorts side. He toyed with two visiting defenders but could only find the side-netting.

Suarez then nicked the ball off Rico from behind and teed up his superstar strike partner, but the latter’s lobbed effort was plucked out of the air by the goalkeeper.

Pablo Sarabia wasted no time in making an impact off the bench for Sevilla in the second half as he fired two powerful drives on target, both of which were plucked out of the air by Ter Stegen.

Paco Alcacer replaced Suarez for the latter stages and came close to scoring in back-to-back games. The striker timed his run perfectly to take on Andres Iniesta’s through ball, but his close-range shot was parried away by Rico.

La Masia graduate Carles Alena appeared near the end for his Camp Nou bow, smudged by a booking. Yet Vitolo went one further, picking up a second yellow and subsequent red for hacking down Neymar in stoppage time.

Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla

Suarez 25, Messi 28, 33 (B) Vitolo sent off 90 (S)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi, Pique (Digne 77), Mascherano, Umtiti; Rakitic (Alena 80), Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez (Alcacer 65), Neymar

Sevilla: Sergio Rico; Mercado (Kranevitter 46), Pareja, Lenglet; Mariano, Iborra (Jovetic 76), N'Zonzi, Correa, Escudero; Nasri (Sarabia 46); Vitolo

Referee: Clos Gomez