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July 24, 2017

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Villa's late winner lifts Barca 3-2 over Sevilla

BARCELONA -- David Villa scored in injury time after Cesc Fabregas netted a brace to give Barcelona a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against 10-man Sevilla on Saturday, equaling the Spanish pacesetter's best league start ever with six straight wins.

For 89 minutes, Sevilla looked set to repeat its feat from two weeks ago when it edged out Madrid with a similar defensive effort and counterattacking style.

Piotr Trochowski, who netted the winner against Madrid, opened for Sevilla in the 26th minute, and Alvaro Negredo doubled the host's advantage three minutes after halftime after a miscue by Barcelona's defense.

Five minutes later Fabregas scored from long range to start Barcelona's rebound, but Sevilla held firm until midfielder Gary Medel was shown a direct red for head-butting Fabregas in the 72nd.

Barcelona pressed its advantage and Fabregas took Lionel Messi's pass inside the area and toed his shot by goalkeeper Andres Palop before the defense had time to close, leveling the score one minute from time.

Messi, frustrated early on in his attempts to score, then teed up Villa's winner three minutes into added time. The late substitute took Messi's pass, used one touch to open space and fired home to claim the win.

"We were never comfortable during the game, but when things got complicated we demonstrated our character," Fabregas said.

Barcelona's victory gave it an 11-point lead over Madrid before it hosts Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. The two powerhouses are set to meet next Sunday at Camp Nou after their games midweek in the Champions League.

Also on Saturday, Malaga rose into second place after its 4-0 rout of 10-man Real Betis. Valencia beat Zaragoza 2-0 for a much-needed second win, and Real Sociedad downed 10-man Athletic Bilbao 2-0.

Barcelona's perfect start comes in coach Tito Vilanova's first season after taking over from Pep Guardiola.

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