Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Messi has scored six direct free-kick goals this season, more than any other La Liga player

Lionel Messi reached the 30-goal mark for the eighth consecutive season as he helped Spanish leaders Barcelona come back from behind to beat Sevilla.

Sixth-placed Sevilla, the last team to beat Barca back in early October, led when Vitolo volleyed in a left-wing cross at the far post.

Messi’s sublime 20-yard free-kick levelled before he teed up Gerard Pique to sidefoot in the close-range winner.

Barca, who have not lost in 34 games, are now eight points clear in La Liga.

The Catalan side’s fightback at the Nou Camp means they have equalled the longest unbeaten run of a La Liga team in all competitions, levelling Real Madrid’s run in the 1988-89 season.

But more concerning for the Bernabeu club is the huge gap that has opened up between them and their arch-rivals Barca.

Zinedine Zidane’s third-placed side are 12 points adrift of the leaders following Saturday’s home derby defeat by Atletico Madrid.

Second-placed Atletico won 1-0 at the Bernabeu to remain Barca’s nearest challengers.

Re-live Barca’s record-equalling performance

Referee was a joke – Neville

Valencia’s four-game winning run under Gary Neville came to a sudden halt as they were beaten 3-0 by visitors Athletic Bilbao.

Neville’s team set a Europa League record with their 10-0 aggregate win against Rapid Vienna, while victories against Espanyol and Granada eased any fears of a relegation battle.

But, in an dress rehearsal of their last-16 Europa League tie, Athletic scored three goals in seven second-half minutes at Mestalla to move up to seventh.

Former England defender Neville was furious at two strong Valencia penalty appeals that were dismissed before the away side’s opener.

“I thought the referee was a joke,” said the ex-Manchester United captain.

“I’ve not blamed refs in every game, but his management of the game was awful. Some of the things he did were incredible.”


Valencia manager Gary Neville discusses his feelings with referee Gil Manzano during the Atletico defeat

comments powered by Disqus