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 By PA Sport

Barcelona equal Spanish record of 34 games unbeaten with Sevilla victory

BarcelonaBarcelona
Sevilla FCSevilla FC
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1
FT
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ESPN FC's Paul Mariner breaks down Barcelona's 2-1 win over Sevilla in La Liga, extending their unbeaten run to 34 games.

Goals from Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique saw Barcelona come from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 at the Nou Camp and equal a Spanish record of 34 games without defeat in all competitions.

The visitors took the lead through Vitolo's volley but a superb free kick from Messi levelled the scores on the half-hour mark, and the Argentine then laid on a pass to Luis Suarez who found Pique to put the Catalans in charge early in the second half.

Although Sevilla continued to cause Barca problems, they held on to stay eight points ahead of Atletico Madrid at the top of the Primera Division as well as drawing level with the unbeaten record set by Leo Beenhakker's Real Madrid side in 1989.

While Barca were looking to preserve their unbeaten run, Sevilla arrived at the Nou Camp still searching for their first away win of the season. Sevilla were, however, the last team to beat Barcelona, winning 2-1 when the sides met at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium back in October.

Barca coach Luis Enrique made five changes from the team that beat Arsenal 2-0 on Wednesday to take a giant stride towards the Champions League quarterfinals, including fielding former Sevilla right-back Aleix Vidal, but stuck with the formidable attacking trident of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Although Sevilla were also in action in midweek, only returning from Norway on Friday, coach Unai Emery was able to rest players for their Europa League fixture at Molde and named a full-strength side on Sunday with the exception of the suspended Ever Banega.

Gerard Pique celebrates after scoring the winner for Barcelona vs. Sevilla.

As with against Arsenal and in many matches this season, Barca made a slow start, constrained by Sevilla's high pressing game. They did create the first real chance of the game though, Vidal slipping the ball to Suarez at the near post, but the Uruguayan was foiled by Sergio Rico.

Barca then hit the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds. Messi took a corner and it almost went straight in, hitting the near post, and Suarez picked up the loose ball before seeing his shot slam against the crossbar.

But Sevilla remained a threat on the counter and they pounced on a lapse in concentration in the Barca defence to take the lead in the 20th minute.

Jeremy Mathieu pushed up too high and played Michael Krohn-Dehli onside. The Dane broke forward on the left and slid the ball into the path of Benoit Tremoulinas, and Vitolo met his cross at the back post to volley into the far bottom corner.

It was the 10th time Barcelona had conceded the first goal this season, but did not panic when they went behind.

Neymar nearly drew the hosts level almost immediately, but again Sergio Rico got in the way.

Kevin Gameiro could have doubled the lead at the other end but lost his footing just as he shaped to shoot, and Barca made Sevilla pay after winning a free kick just outside the penalty area to the left. Messi took a short run up and span the ball across to the far top corner with exquisite execution.

The Argentine had two more chances to give Barca the lead before the break, but spurned both.

Although in the lead for most of the second half, Barca were by no means out of sight. Claudio Bravo denied Gameiro at the near post, then Krohn-Dehli shot just wide. A cross from Steven N'Zonzi was nearly diverted into the net by the Barca defence, and late on Vitolo's appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears.

Barca could also have wrapped up the points long before the final whistle. Suarez inadvertently blocked a goal-bound header from Sergi Roberto with his chest, and the Uruguayan also mis-controlled when played in a couple of yards out, striking the ball with his knee straight at Rico.

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