Messi takes centre-stage once more as super-sub for Barcelona


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The Independent Football

Lionel Messi took just three minutes after coming on as a substitute to make an impact for Barcelona, scoring a free kick before finishing from close range in the 4-2 La Liga victory over Real Betis at the Nou Camp.

The victory takes them to just one win away from the title, but they had to work hard for the result after twice going behind.

Pabon and Ruben Perez had put Betis ahead, with Alexis Sanchez and then David Villa replying.

The latter was replaced immediately by Messi after netting the equaliser and it proved to be a smart move by Tito Vilanova as the Argentinian made an instant impact.

First he curled a free-kick into the top corner before finishing a wonderful team goal with a tap in from close range to seal the points.

Mallorca remain bottom of the league after only managing a 1-1 draw with Levante at home.

Tomer Hemed gave the Islanders a dream start by scoring inside seven minutes, but Robert Acquafresca equalised just before half-time.

Despite dominating possession and having 17 attempts on goal, Mallorca were unable to get a winner, which could have a huge impact on their chances of avoiding relegation.

Real Zaragoza recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time this season as Rayo Vallecano succumbed meekly at La Romareda.

An Apono penalty got Zaragoza on their way in the 26th minute before Rodri doubled their advantage after 51 minutes.

Apono struck his second in injury time as Zaragoza moved out of the bottom three.

Seville kept their dreams of Europa League football alive for next season with a convincing 3-0 win over Espanyol.

Joan Capdevila's own goal gave the home side an early lead with Andujar Coke and Alvaro Negredo scoring the second and third in the space of four minutes as Seville moved three points off Betis, who occupy the final European spot.