Monday, 15 October, 2018

Messi helps Barca extend unbeaten run

Matthijs de Ligt GETTY Matthijs de Ligt is wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona
Domingo Copeland | 02 April, 2018, 11:35

Messi began Barca's game away to Sevilla on the subs' bench due to a groin injury and it was not until around half an hour from the end that coach Ernesto Valverde made a decision to risk him.

Suarez pulled a goal back in the 88th minute and 57 seconds later Messi met a cutback from Philippe Coutinho first time, smashing the ball under the grasp of Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico and salvaging Barca's long unbeaten league run, which was stretched to 37 games, one shy of a La Liga record.

Umtiti called the release clause worth £53 million in his current Barca deal "low" but also said his "sole focus is on Barcelona", despite the interest from United and "other clubs".

"He is a player that is decisive every time he touches the ball".

"Today as a precaution he has not started, but we think that on Wednesday he may be available", Valverde said.

Real defender Nacho Fernandez had to be substituted in the first half with a thigh strain and the Spaniard was seen crying as he sat on the sidelines with the injury likely to rule him out of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Juventus.

Barcelona are now 12 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid approaching the latter stages of the season, but Valverde has said that his team still have work to do in order to reclaim the crown.

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Valverde said: "The game was very bad, because in the first half they mounted unsafe counterattacks after our corners, though we also had some clear opportunities. They had a lot of chances after making it 2-0 but we showed a lot of pride and we stayed strong mentally", Suarez told reporters.

As Messi warmed up, Sevilla should have been three in front when Navas raced through one-on-one, but Ter Stegen held him up momentarily before Pique cleared his shot off the line.

"We haven't known how to handle this kind of situation, it hasn't happened to us during the season".

Sevilla host German side Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Franco Vazquez fired the home side, who are chasing a top-five finish, into the lead after 36 minutes and there looked no way back when Colombia forward Luis Muriel added another early in the second half.

Luis Suarez threatened the home team in the first 10 minutes of the game with a shot at goal, which, however missed its mark, and after that scare came another when Joaquin "Tucu" Correa got off his shot a little too slowly.

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