Liga - Messi bags brace as Barca reclaim top spot

La Liga, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan - Sevilla 1 (Moreno 15') Barcelona 4 (Sanchez 34', Messi 44', 56', Fabregas 88')

Goals from the Argentinean, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas saw the Catalans run out winners in atrocious conditions in Andalucía, taking advantage of Atletico Madrid’s slip up at Almeria to move top of the table on goal difference.

The home side took the lead after 15 minutes, when Moreno’s strike found the back of the net via a deflection off Marc Bartra after good work from Ivan Rakitic on the right wing.

However, despite a number of chances for Sevilla to extend their advantage it was Barca who levelled the score, when Sanchez turned home Messi’s chipped freekick.

And Messi gave his side the lead just before the break, smashing a strike inot the net from the edge of the box following a rapid counter attack by Pedro down the left wing.

Heavy rain put the game in doubt at half time, but conditions eased and Barcelona took a commanding lead after 56 minutes, when Messi took Andres Iniesta’s strong pass on the run and angles a left footed shot in off the inside of the post.

And substitute Fabregas added the gloss to the result in the final minutes of the game, chipping the ball over Beto in the Sevilla goal after an incisive pass by Sanchez.

KEY EVENTS

15’ GOAL – The home side takes the lead! Moreno's strike from just inside the box takes a touch off Bartra and flies into the Barcelona net.

21’ WOODWORK – So close to a second! Rakitic whips in a great freekick into the penalty area finding Bacca, who is unmarked about six yards out from goal. But his header cannons back off the post and Montoya manages to keep the rebound out.

29’ CHANCE – Huge chance for Sevilla! Gameiro beats Pique to a long ball, drawing Bartra over and creating loads of space on the left side. He finds Rakitic, who in turn should pass to Vitolo in space, but he takes on the shot himself, and the ball flashes past the post.

34’ GOAL – The home side are made to pay for giving away a freekick on the edge of the box, with Alexis turning in Messi's chipped freekick into the net with his back. That's tough on Sevilla.

44’ GOAL – What a counter attack! Pedro breaks down the left side before passing to Messi 18 yards out, who takes one touch and smashes a strike into the net!

51’ CHANCE – Best chance of the game! Vitolo manages to steal the ball off Montoya and hold off the attentions of Pique, breaking through on goal. But when he has to pick his spot he tries to find the corner with a nonchalent finish and the ball dribbles past the post!

55’ GOAL – The Barca number 10 scores another magnificent goal! He takes Iniesta's pass on the run and angles a left footed, side-footed shot into the back of the net, in off the post.

89’ GOAL - And that should be that for Barca. Alexis finds Fabregas inside the box, who chips the ball over Beto in the opposition goal. That was walked into the net.

KEY STATS

In 24 games for Barcelona this season Lionel Messi has scored 21 goals and made 10 assists.

The last time three teams were tied on points at this stage of the Spanish league season was 31 years ago.

Lionel Messi is now the player with the most Barcelona goals against Sevilla, surpassing Cesar Rodriguez.

TALKING POINT – Are Barcelona ready for Manchester City?

Martino has been under pressure in recent weeks, with Barcelona looking susceptible in both the league and the cup. But while they didn’t look much better at the back tonight they were back to their ruthless best on the attack. Bring on City in the Champions League?

MAN OF THE MATCH – Andres Iniesta

The World Cup winner showed what Barcelona have been missing in recent weeks, dropping deep and linking up play in and around the penalty area. It’s no coincidence that Messi looked back to his best tonight with Iniesta back in the side.

PLAYER RATINGS

Sevilla – Beto 6, Diogo 5, Fazio 6, Pareja 5, Moreno 6, Carrico 5, Iborra 5, Gameiro 6, Rakitic 8, Vitolo 5, Bacca 6. Subs – Trochowski 4, Cheryshev 4.

Barcelona – Valdes 7, Montoya 5, Bartra 5, Pique 5, Adriano 6, Song 6, Xavi 6, Iniesta 8, Alexis 7, Pedro 5, Messi 8. Subs – Fabregas 6.