Lionel Messi, who was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup by coach Ronald Koeman, scored twice after coming on at the start of the second period in Barcelona’s 5-2 win over Real Betis.
Lionel Messi responded to being benched by scoring twice as a substitute and leading Barcelona to a 5-2 home victory over Real Betis on Saturday, snapping a four-game winless streak in La Liga for the Catalans.
Barca’s captain was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup by coach Ronald Koeman and they found themselves drawing 1-1 when Antonio Sanabria cancelled out Ousmane Dembele’s superb opening strike on the stroke of halftime.
Messi was brought on at the start of the second period and promptly produced a sublime dummy to allow Antoine Griezmann to tap into an unguarded net and put Barca back in front in the 49th minute, the Frenchman finally making amends for missing four chances before the break including squandering a penalty.
Barca’s all-time top scorer Messi then further stretched their lead in the 61st by emphatically dispatching a penalty after Aissa Mandi was shown a straight red card, following a VAR review, for using his arm to block a shot from Dembele.
Betis did manage to pull a goal back with 10 men when striker Loren Moron netted at the far post to make it 3-2 after a marauding run down the left wing by Alex Moreno.
But Messi soon put the game beyond doubt, smashing the ball into the top corner after receiving a wonderful backheel from teammate Sergi Roberto, while 17-year-old Pedri struck the fifth after another fine pass from Sergi Roberto.