Messi scores as Barcelona rebound
By Joseph Wilson ,APBARCELONA -- Barcelona's Lionel Messi extended his league-record scoring run to 15 straight games in a 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday, three days before the Spanish leaders' Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.
February 25, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Barcelona striker David Villa canceled out Alberto Botia's opener with a header in the 52nd before Messi grabbed the winner in the 60th with his league-best 38th goal through 25 rounds.
Madrid, meanwhile, needed Kaka to score his first goal in the Spanish league this season and cue Gonzalo Higuain's late winner to come from behind and win 2-1 at last-placed Deportivo La Coruna.
With the Spanish title all but secured, Barcelona's priorities are the Champions League — where they lost the first leg of the round-of-16 clash at Milan 2-0 last week — and the domestic cup.
It meets Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium on Tuesday for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. The first leg in Madrid finished 1-1.
“Madrid has an incredible team and we will have to be at our best to reach the final,” said Messi. “We will have to play like we always do and not let the Milan game affect us.”
Barcelona's 11th win in 12 league home games moved it 15 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which plays Espanyol on Sunday.
“You could see we came into this game off a poor result, but we were able to pull out the win,” said Messi. “It's tough not to think about Milan. We know we didn't play our best game in the San Siro, even if it wasn't a reason to completely fall apart.”
Sevilla resisted well early on and its plan paid dividends three minutes before halftime when it struck through its first incursion into Barcelona's area from a free kick by Ivan Rakitic. Botia, a former Barcelona youth player, rose over his marker to turn Jorge “Coke” Andujar's cross bouncing off the turf and beyond the reach of goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Frustrated in its attempts to penetrate through the middle, Barcelona turned to the more traditional cross-and-volley route as Dani Alves picked out Villa strolling down the middle of the box to thump his lobbed pass home for the equalizer.
Messi put Barcelona ahead for good when he slotted in a pass from Cristian Tello after he had started the move by playing Tello wide.
Messi said Villa, who didn't play against Milan and hasn't played much this season, helped him in attack.