Lionel Messi was unleashed onto the pitch late on Saturday night like a high-tech secret weapon (which he is) and he helped Barcelona crawl back from 2 goals down to keep their La Liga unbeaten status in tact. 2-2 it ended with Messi inspiring two goals in the dying embers of the game.
After a muscle discomfort had forced him to sit out of Argentina’s friendlies against Italy and Spain, expectedly Messi was left on the bench. But when goals from Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel blasted a 2-goal deficit into Ernesto Valverde’s side, threatening to halt and shatter their league unbeaten run that has stood for 36 games, a desperate Valverde unshackled his magical inventory; Messi. And as always, he delivered.
Coming on for Ousmane Dembele in the 58th minute, he wrestled the game from Sevilla’s hegemonic hold and Luis Suarez was denied by the woodwork almost immediately.
But the woodwork could only admire the sheer athleticism and improvisation of the Uruguayan in the 88th minute when he acrobatically converted from a corner-kick to open the game. With 1 goal down and 2 minutes remaining of normal time, Barcelona threw everything forward to salvage their immaculate run of results. Messi, their high-tech secret weapon, equalised on the 89th minute with a beautiful salvo from his wand-like left-foot to keep La Blaugrana’s unbeaten run in motion bringing it to 37 in total, just one short of the La Liga record held by Real Sociedad since 1980.
No constellation of stars, yet no problem for Zinedine Zidane’s charges as Real Madrid bruised Las Palmas 3-0 at the Gran Canaria despite embarking on the voyage to the island without 6 regular starters. Two goals from Gareth Bale and another from the makeshift captain Karim Benzema sealed the game for ‘Los Blancos’.
Kelvin Gaimero’s contestable penalty was the saving grace for a depleted Atletico Madrid who suffered unprecedentedly against a troubled Deportivo La Coruna side (that hasn’t won any matches since Clarence Seedorf took the reins) as the ‘Los Colchoneros’ ground out a 1-0 victory.
Malaga helped themselves to a lifeline. A 1-0 victory over Villarreal as ignited a flickering hope in their to bid to beat the drop. The victory was only their 4th of the season yet they rose two points closer to safety than impending doom.
Espanyol 0-0 Alaves
Leganes 0-1 Valencia
Eibar 0-0 Sociedad
Malaga 1-0 Villarreal
A Madrid 1-0 Deportivo
Girona 1-1 Levante
Ath Bilbao 1-1 Celta Vigo
Las Palmas 0-3 R Madrid
Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona