A quick glance at the scoreline and one of the scorers in particular will tell the same old story: Lionel Messi on the score sheet once again as Barcelona beat Sevilla 3-2 to record their fourth straight win.
The actual narrative was slightly different, though. Remarkably different in fact.
Neymar's wait for his first La Liga goal may have continued, but the Brazilian was Barca's stand-out performer in a match which featured a furious ending at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
Coke, who had been run ragged by Neymar all night, looked to have stolen a draw in stoppage time, only for Alexis Sanchez to emerge as the actual thief—pocketing the three points, breaking Sevilla's hearts and forcing journalists into another frantic rewrite.
Worryingly, Barca's inability to defend counterattacks and set pieces persists—the visitors also had a perfectly good goal ruled out—but they will try to seek solace in the form of Neymar and his burgeoning relationship with Lionel Messi that we were once again offered glimpses of.
Put in layman's terms: Sevilla couldn't handle Neymar. His tricky feet and fast running caused the Andalusian's, and notably Coke, problems time and time again—a fact which is demonstrated in the seven fouls they made on him.
Within three minutes, it was clear his tail was wagging. Cutting onto his right foot he drew a save, which was more acrobatic than anything, from Beto to draw the first gasp from the home supporters.
Still inside the first 10 minutes, in very similar circumstances, he had drawn another impressive save from the Sevilla stopper, and 10 minutes later it was the 21-year-old's classy run which should have led to Cristian Tello opening the scoring—Beto, again, being the spoiler.
Approaching the half hour mark, Neymar remained in the thick of everything, which looked remotely threatening. Collecting an Andres Iniesta pass, he was frustrated to see his effort blocked when he perhaps should have worked Beto once again.
His Hollywood moment came soon after. A sublime spin left Coke looking like an impostor, and he burst into the Sevilla half with gusto to win a free kick, which Messi would curl narrowly over.
Into the second half and Neymar continued to impress more than Messi—he managed four shots on the night and won six of his eight take ons—but it was his ability to link up with his Argentinian colleague that sealed the three points. A first-time pass across the face of the Sevilla goal allowed Messi the simplest of finishes after 75 minutes.
Few would have bet on what was to follow that. Ivan Rakitic and Coke silenced Camp Nou, as it looked like Unai Emery's men had mustered the energy to save an unlikely point.
But while Barca may not have the best back line, they do have hunger and resilience in abundance.
Messi was involved as Alexis won the match and the headlines, but, with defensive cracks still obvious, the relationship of Neymar and Messi is going to have to build on the flashes of brilliance we've seen from them against Valencia and Sevilla—other teams might not be as forgiving.
All stats taken from Squawka.
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