Barcelona had Lionel Messi to thank once more after his hat-trick of assists helped the La Liga champions battle to a 3-2 win over Real Betis.
Betis were awarded a penalty inside the opening five minutes when Clement Lenglet was adjudged to have blocked a shot with his arm, and Sergio Canales tucked away the resulting spot-kick to give the hosts a shock lead.
The advantage lasted only four minutes, however, as Frenkie de Jong levelled proceedings with a smart finish, latching onto an exquisite Lionel Messi pass.
La Blaugrana then spurned a whole host of chances to edge ahead, but it was the hosts who struck next, when Nabil Fekir capitalised on an Arturo Vidal mistake to lash home. Sergio Busquets levelled the scores deep in first-half injury time, and the two sides went into the half-time break all square.
Fekir was then sent off a few minutes later for dissent towards the referee, as the hosts began to crumble, before Lenglet also saw red. Despite the late setback,
Key Talking Point
Given Barcelona are currently in a full-blown crisis, the last thing the Catalan giants needed was one of their own stars putting in a superb performance against them on Sunday evening.
But that's exactly what happened.
Starting XI: Ter
Substitutes: Jordi Alba (6), Arthur (6), Rakitic (N/A)
Sorry for stating the blinkin' obvious, but this Messi fella is alright at football, isn't he?
The Argentine superstar wasn't at his mind-boggling best in possession, but it was his vital contributions from set-pieces that won the game for Barcelona.
The 32-year-old clipped a delicious pass over the top of the Betis defence to allow De Jong the chance to level the scores early on, and the little magician then delivered a superb free-kick which was tucked away by Busquets to restore parity once more.
Messi's awards for 'best supporting act' didn't stop there, though, as the
The man deserves a better cast.
Real Betis put in a strong display against La Blaugrana on Sunday evening, and they will be hoping for a similar display against Leganes next Sunday. Barcelona take on Getafe in their next La Liga fixture, as Quique Setién's men look to close the gap on Real Madrid at the top of the table.