Barcelona vs. Sevilla: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Barcelona continued their perfect start to the new Liga season, beating Sevilla 3-2 at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
Dani Alves opened the scoring with a back-post header in the first half, then Lionel Messi slammed home to make it two. Sevilla had a goal seemingly wrongly disallowed, and it only fired them up, drawing level in the 90th minute after strikes from Ivan Rakitic and Coke.
But Barca had the last laugh, with Alexis Sanchez bundling home from six yards with one of the last kicks of the game.
The home side started strongly, dominating possession and dictating the tempo with ease.
In the opening 15 minutes they recorded 78 percent possession, limiting Sevilla purely to sharp counterattacks and dogged defending.
The Rojiblancos seemed content with that, though, and fed youthful winger Jairo and forward runner Kevin Gameiro early and often down the right to test Gerard Pique's pace.
With Lionel Messi looking a little jaded and playing a largely ineffectual role, Neymar stood out as els Blaugrana's star performer in the first half. He suffered no less than six fouls as Sevilla chopped him down with regularity, and the Brazilian really gave right-back Coke a beating.
Despite the dominance—11 shots to Sevilla's one, and 68 percent possession at halftime—the only goal of the half arrived just before the whistle and from an extremely unlikely source.
Alves, a former Sevilla player, headed in at the far post after Adriano picked him out with a fantastic left-wing cross. No celebration from the speedster, marking his respect for his old employers.
The second half started out in much the same fashion, with Neymar dazzling on the left-hand side and soon drawing a yellow card out of Coke.
Stephane M'bia, already on a yellow card, held him back on a counter and was subsequently withdrawn by his manager, a ticking time bomb in truth.
Gif: Goal Messi (2-0) http://t.co/SKm8lQMwVJ— barcastuff (@barcastuff) September 14, 2013
Manager Unai Emery made positive substitutions, and with the away side's seventh corner of the game, Cala nodded home after rising the highest. Inexplicably, the referee blew his whistle for a foul and the goal didn't stand.
Gerardo Martino responded with a substitution or two of his own, throwing on Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. It was the latter who was involved in Barca's next goal, spraying it wide to Neymar, who put it on a plate for Messi to finish coolly into the roof of the net.
But with fans quickly marking this game down in the "Win" column, Sevilla hit back hard: Great work on the left from Vitolo allowed Rakitic to fire home, then Coke, the tormented, volleyed a sweet finish into the net from a corner in the 90th minute.
A through-ball nearly saw substitute Marko Marin in for a one vs. one in the closing stages, and Messi responded by beating two players, hitting the byline and feeding Alexis Sanchez for a 94th-minute winner.
Key Player Grades
Neymar, Barcelona: A
The Brazilian put in a Man of the Match performance, owning the left flank and giving Coke and Stephane M'bia nightmares. Silky skills, good passing and generous service to Messi.
Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla: A-
Rakitic is a seriously underrated player, and he played extremely well both offensively and defensively on Saturday. Positionally very strong, a good tackler and a finisher too.
Full Player Grades
Barcelona travel to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday, Sevilla face Valencia at the Mestalla in the following day's prime-time kickoff.
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