Messi and Neymar shine but Barcelona fail to contain Sevilla in draw

Barcelona gave away a two-goal lead in their disappointing 2-2 draw at Sevilla on Saturday. The result reduced their advantage over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga to just two points after their rivals had earlier beaten Eibar 3-0.

Barca were the last side to beat Sevilla in the Sanchez Pizjuan going back 14 months and 31 matches, and the match started as if they would easily break Sevilla's superb home run.

Luis Enrique's men kept possession and were by far the better side in the opening minutes, racing into a two-goal lead with goals by Lionel Messi and Neymar.

However, an Ever Banega goal before the interval kept the home side in the game and Sevilla got a late equaliser through Kevin Gameiro after Barca had kept them relatively quiet throughout the second half.

The final result will come as a huge blow after the start made but Barca played good football throughout at a difficult stadium and Neymar's return to form will be welcomed.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Claudio Bravo, 6 -- Allowed Sevilla back in the game by failing to deal with their first real attempt, punching Banega's shot onto the post and into his own net. Had to be quick on occasion after that but did not have a real save to make. The season he has had means he can be forgiven the odd error.

DF Dani Alves, 8 -- What a miss he will be if he is allowed to leave the club at the end of the season. Always keen to get forward on his return to the club where he made his name, gave great width as usual and made some important challenges at the back.

DF Jordi Alba, 6 -- Plenty of energy but little chance to get into advanced positions, had to be defensively sound to keep Aleix Vidal quiet, caught out of position for the leveller.

DF Jeremy Mathieu, 7 -- Chosen ahead of Enrique's favourite, Javier Mascherano, due to recent important goals and good performances, some of his passing was sloppy but let nobody down against a strong Sevilla attack.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- At fault for the equaliser with a misplaced pass to blight what was a sharp display after Sevilla burst into life in the final third of the first half. Otherwise, strong in the air and quick on the ground to deny space for the dangerous forward Carlos Bacca.

MF Sergio Busquets, 6 -- Still showing a bit of rustiness after returning from injury and gave the ball away more than usual. Still played a key role to allow Barca to have so much possession and keep Sevilla's threat to a minimum.

MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 -- Industrious display on his return to his former club's stadium, without standing out. His running gives Barca some much-needed energy against sides like Sevilla, who have to work harder without the ball.

MF Andres Iniesta, 8 -- Calm and collected, he helped Barca keep possession and kept things ticking over in the left-hand channel. Some clever forward runs, one which almost led to his first goal of the season. His role has changed this season but he has adapted well to it.

FW Luis Suarez, 7 -- Shows intelligence in every game, won the free kick for Neymar's goal and was unlucky moments later with his own effort. Had a quieter second half.

FW Lionel Messi, 7 -- Opened the scoring with a curling shot almost identical to the one he got against Almeria on Wednesday. Looked like he was in the mood to destroy Sevilla at one stage but his impact was reduced in the second half.

FW Neymar, 8 -- Huge improvement, ran at the Sevilla defence and found Messi in space for the opener before lifting a beautiful free kick over the wall. His first goal in almost two months and first assist in three will have boosted his confidence massively; unlucky to be substituted.


MF Xavi Hernandez , NA -- Given 17 minutes in place of Neymar to see out the win, something which was ultimately not achieved, through no fault of his own.

FW Pedro Rodriguez, NA -- Came on for Iniesta with five minutes remaining after Sevilla's leveller. His fresh legs almost created something in the Sevilla area in extra time.