Barcelona 4 Sevilla 2: Messi injured but champions go top

Lionel Messi was substituted with an arm injury that makes him a doubt for next weekend’s Clasico but the Barcelona captain inspired a 4-2 home win against Sevilla to send his side top of LaLiga.

Philippe Coutinho scored from Messi’s pass in the second minute to get Barca off to a flying start at Camp Nou on Saturday and the Argentina superstar soon doubled the lead.

But Messi had to be substituted having hurt his right arm in an awkward fall and he could miss Wednesday’s Champions League game against Inter, as well as next Sunday’s showdown with rivals Real Madrid.

Luis Suarez’s second-half penalty and a late strike from Ivan Rakitic secured the points despite consolations from Pablo Sarabia and Luis Muriel, Ernesto Valverde’s men moving into first place in the table, with Sevilla third after their four-game winning streak ended.

Despite being on a run of one win in five in all competitions, Barca led inside two minutes with Coutinho bending home a sensational first-time strike to complete a wonderful team move involving Messi and Suarez.

Guilherme Arana struck the post but Messi scored a typically brilliant second for his side in the 12th minute, running on to a superb Suarez pass and cutting inside off the right flank to find the bottom-left corner from 20 yards to record his 25th goal against Sevilla.

Messi, though, was then replaced by Ousmane Dembele after landing heavily on his right arm, Barca’s treatment team initially patching him up but finding he could not continue.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen twice produced remarkable double saves, then Suarez sealed victory when he sent Tomas Vaclik the wrong way from the penalty spot after he was felled by the goalkeeper.

Sarabia’s 79th-minute reply took a vital deflection off former Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet to ruin Ter Stegen’s clean sheet, the Germany goalkeeper then making a second double save.

Rakitic added a late fourth with a controlled volley against his old club but Sevilla still had the final say, Muriel bending home a fine finish in added time.

Despite a welcome win, Barcelona will be concerned about Messi’s injury ahead of next weekend’s Clasico.

What does it mean: Messi major concern

Getting back to winning ways will be a huge relief for Valverde, but Messi’s injury gives him another headache. Barca are arguably more reliant on their talisman than ever before and if he is out for any serious length of time, their title aspirations will be severely dented.

Ter Stegen heroics save Barca

A wonderful double save from Ter Stegen was a vital moment for Barca, who then quickly extended their lead from the penalty spot after Suarez was felled. The first save from Andre Silva’s header was brilliant but blocking the rebound from Franco Vazquez was arguably even better. Incredibly, Ter Stegen made another amazing double save in the closing stages to keep out Muriel and Sarabia.

Ben Yedder toothless for visitors

Behind Messi and level with team-mate Sarabia, Wissam Ben Yedder was among LaLiga’s top scorers this term with nine in all competitions, but the striker had little involvement. Sevilla – now winless in 16 games at Camp Nou – were on the back foot from the off, however, blunting his impact.

What’s next?

European action for both sides this week with Barca hosting Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday and Sevilla welcoming Akhisarspor in the Europa League a day later. On Sunday it’s Huesca at home for Sevilla, while Barca will hope Messi is fit to face Madrid in the Clasico.

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Liverpool star Salah never worried by goal drought

Mohamed Salah insists he never panicked during his four-match scoreless streak that ended with the winner in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The Egypt international clinically tucked home midway through the first half on Saturday to ensure the Reds again moved level on points with Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

The tidy finish from Xherdan Shaqiri’s incisive pass was the former Chelsea forward’s 50th goal in English football.

While pleased to reach the milestone, the 26-year-old took more pride in giving Liverpool their first win in five outings.

“It’s a good feeling but the most important thing is to help the team get the result and now we are on track,” Salah told BT Sport.

“I’m not worried [when I don’t score]. The most important thing is the team, so as long as I help them get the result I’m not worried.

“We had four or five players starting in the team for the first time this season in the Premier League. All of us are at the same level so everyone has to fight [for places].

“It was a tough game but in the end we got the three points, the most important thing. We had to fight but we knew that.”

Adam Lallana joined Salah in a front three that was missing the injured Sadio Mane and only featured Roberto Firmino for a brief cameo off the bench.

The England international completed 69 minutes on his return from a groin injury and cited the club’s impressive depth as essential to their title ambitions.

“It’s a long season,” Lallana said. “It’s only a few weeks ago I was thinking about where my next game was coming from even when I’m back fit.

“Throughout the course of the season everyone is going to have to contribute if you want to achieve something special.”

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Messi gives Barca Clasico scare with early exit against Sevilla

Barcelona are sweating over the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of next weekend’s El Clasico clash with Real Madrid after suffering a nasty injury.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner fell awkwardly on his right arm in the 17th minute of the La Liga clash with Sevilla at the Camp Nou on Saturday and was immediately in visible pain.

He underwent treatment as the game continued with his arm being wrapped by trainers while he laid on the sidelines.

However, he remained down after treatement in obvious discomfort and was unable to continue, eventually being replaced by Ousmane Dembele after 26 minutes.

Messi had already left his mark on the game as he helped Barcelona into a 2-0 lead, teeing up Philippe Coutinho for the opener before netting his 32nd career goal against Sevilla inside the opening 12 minutes.

But that cameo display has been overshadowed by an injury which throws into major doubt his participation in his club’s important next few fixtures.

Barca face Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, before hosting arch rivals Real next Sunday.

The Catalans then face three away games in a row against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey, Rayo Vallecano in La Liga and the return game with Inter.

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Sancho airs ‘big ambitions’ after netting for Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho admits he has “big ambitions” at Borussia Dortmund after seeing his fairytale run continue with a goal against Stuttgart.

The 18-year-old is living the dream at present, with everything he touches turning to gold.

An impressive opening to the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign saw him deliver six assists across a seven-game run which included only one start.

Those efforts earned him senior international recognition, with a first England cap secured during a Nations League clash with World Cup finalists Croatia.

While riding that crest of a wave, Sancho returned to domestic action on Saturday with the third strike of his spell at Dortmund – as they crushed Stuttgart 4-0 on the road.

He told the club’s official website afterwards: “We made a bright start. Everyone was working for each other, we got it spot on.

“I’m happy that I scored the first goal and helped to make the start to the game easier for my team.

“Many of us were away on international duty, so it was important for us to start quickly.

“I’m happy to be part of this team. I feel very happy, we have big ambitions.”

A convincing win on their travels has helped Sancho and Dortmund to remain at the Bundesliga summit.

Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund

They are yet to suffer a defeat in the German top-flight this season and sit four points clear of reigning champions Bayern Munich following an uncharacteristic wobble from the Bavarian giants.

Dortmund stalwart Marco Reus is delighted with how things are going and sees no reason why the feel-good factor cannot sweep Lucien Favre’s side much deeper into a campaign which is promising so much.

He said: “We played some quick football and moved the ball about in the first half. We had slightly less control in the second period, but it was still a very successful afternoon.

“However, you can see that despite the good results, we still have some tactical work to do.

“Now it’s important to enjoy the afternoon. I’m happy that we won and by this margin of victory too.

“We’re ready for Atletico Madrid on Wednesday [in the Champions League]. They’re very strong defensively and line up in a compact 4-4-2 formation. So we’ll need to be patient.

“That’ll be a test of our maturity and where we’re at, but I believe in us.”

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