Paco Alcacer strikes twice to sink Sevilla as Lionel Messi brings up 600th Barca match
La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 2 (Alcacer 23', 65') Sevilla 1 (Pizarro 59')
Paco Alcacer scored twice as Barcelona overcame a gritty Sevilla to maintain their position at the top of La Liga.
The 24-year-old’s selection in the starting line-up was surprising, but he proved the difference between the two sides come full time. He latched on to a poor Sergio Escudero pass back in the 22nd minute to pick up his first, before Guido Pizarro got on the end of a corner kick to equalise for the visitors with half an hour remaining.
But Alcacer was not to be thwarted – five minutes later he prodded home an Ivan Rakitic cross to give Barca the three points and a four-point cushion over Valencia at the top of La Liga.
Sevilla improved as the game progressed, but Ernesto Valverde’s men were worthy winners in the end, looking every bit title pace-setters.
TALKING POINT - Is this now a title race between Barcelona and Valencia?
Victory over Sevilla maintained Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga after Valencia’s impressive win over Leganes hours earlier. Real Madrid play on Sunday, but the gap between the champions and the Catalans is already looking unbridgeable. So is this now a title race between Barcelona and Valencia, as unlikely as that may seem?
MAN OF THE MATCH - Paco Alcacer (Barcelona)
This was the game Alcacer finally showed what role he can play for Barcelona. Questions were asked when the striker was shown on the team sheet on the right wing of Barca’s attacking line, but Alcacer more than justified his place there, scoring the two goals that gave the Catalans an important victory. Could this be where Alcacer proves his worth from this point forward?
Barcelona's Spanish forward Paco Alcacer (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league footbal match FC Barcelona vs Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 4, 2017.Getty Images
6’ OFF THE LINE! Now Busquets comes close to opening the scoring, sending a shot towards goal following a cut back from Messi, but a defender was back on the line to make the clearance.
7’ SUAREZ SHOULD HAVE SCORED! The former Liverpool striker beats the offside trap to get on the end of a long ball, but he couldn't quite lob Soria in the Sevilla goal. An in form Suarez would have scored that.
22’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Sevilla: Well what do you know? Alcacer has opened the scoring for Barcelona! The touch back from Escudero was poor, with the striker latching on to it, sliding home a finish underneath Soria.
Leo Messi, FC Barcelona - SevillaGetty Images
60’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla: There's the goal Sevilla had been pushing hard for at the start of the season half! Pizarro got on the end of a corner kick delivery and glanced a header home. We're back on level terms!
64’ OFF THE CROSSBAR! That was very nearly an instant reply from Barcelona, with Pique taking aim from 18 yards out. But his shot smashes off the crossbar and goes behind.
65’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla: He's got another one! Alcacer scored the opener and he has put Barcelona back in front! The striker got to the near post and prods home a Rakitic cross. Good finish. Good movement.
Paco Alcacer has scored nine goals in his last nine starts for Barcelona in all competitions.