Lionel Messi brace hands Barcelona sweet win over Real Betis

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.

Lionel Messi celebrates Barcelona's fourth goal against Real Betis on Saturday.   -  REUTERS

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.

MATCH CENTRE

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 half-time.

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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.

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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.

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But Messi soon put the game beyond doubt, smashing the ball into the top corner after receiving a wonderful backheel from team mate Sergi Roberto, while 17-year-old Pedri struck the fifth after another fine pass from Sergi Roberto.

Barca's Fati tears meniscus in left knee

Barcelona's Spain forward Ansu Fati is set for several months on the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury on Saturday.

A Barca statement said Fati, who turned 18 last month, had ruptured the internal meniscus in his left knee and that the club were currently weighing up different treatment options, without giving details on when he could expect to return.

Fati was included in the Spain squad for their upcoming fixtures against the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany but is unlikely to return to action for the rest of the year.

He is also set to miss Barca's crunch Liga trip to Atletico Madrid later this month and will be a doubt for the Spanish Super Cup, set to be held in January in Saudi Arabia.

Fati has been one of Barca's best performers this season, scoring five goals in 10 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League.

Last season he became the club's youngest ever league goalscorer and the youngest scorer in the history of the Champions League.

A goal in a Nations League match with Ukraine in September, meanwhile, made him the youngest player to score for Spain.

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