Ronald Koeman hails match winner Lionel Messi after Real Betis win

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman was full of praise for skipper Lionel Messi after he came off the bench to play a key role in their 3-2 La Liga win over Real Betis.

Koeman opted to rest the Argentinian international from the start at the Estadio Benito Villamarin ahead of a demanding run of games in the coming weeks.

However, with La Blaugrana trailing 1-0 at the start of the second half, Koeman turned to his talisman to haul his side back into the game and Messi responded with an instant equaliser.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi

“I was talking to Leo yesterday about giving him a break and, if we needed him, putting him on”, Koeman told a post match interview with Marca.

“He came in and changed the game. He has given us a lot of play.”

Messi’s strike brings him up to 13 league goals for the season, one behind his old strike partner Luis Suarez at Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez

Koeman’s side now head to Sevilla in midweek for their Copa del Rey semi final, and he may rest the 33-year old in Andalucia, with a home game against Alaves less than 72 hours later.

The veteran striker is almost certain to start against the Basque side as they warm up for their Champions League last 16 tie with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Tags Lionel Messi