La Liga

Messi, Barcelona outlast Sevilla

The Messi/Neymar connection was in full effect for Barcelona on Saturday.
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BARCELONA, SPAIN AP

Alexis Sanchez scored in injury time to give Barcelona a 3-2 win over Sevilla on Saturday, as the Spanish champion stayed perfect through four rounds before starting its Champions League campaign.

Barcelona appeared to have the win easily in hand after goals by Dani Alves and Lionel Messi, but two late goals from Ivan Rakitic in the 85th and Jorge ''Coke'' Andujar in the 90th put Sevilla on the cusp of a dramatic draw.

That was when Messi dribbled by two defenders and drew a save from Sevilla goalkeeper Antonio ''Beto'' Bastos, with the rebound falling for Alexis to poke home and ignite the Camp Nou crowd.

''That last goal was all heart,'' Alexis said. ''Now comes the Champions League, where you have to know how to win.''

Barcelona hosts Ajax on Wednesday in the Champions League.

While Messi was oddly quiet early on, striker partner Neymar caused Sevilla's defense fits from the start with his incursions from the left flank. The Brazil star had three good chances and drew a pair of saves from Beto, who also did well to palm Cristian Tello's low strike past his post.

Neymar's speed and sleek footwork left Sevilla's defense with no other option than to foul and rack up three bookings by the 50-minute mark.

Adriano, who had gone on for the apparently injured Jordi Alba in the 14th, picked out fellow Brazilian Dani Alves at the far post to head his cross into the net in the 36th.

Sevilla improved after halftime, but Neymar squared Cesc Fabregas' pass for Messi to volley in for his league-leading sixth goal of the season in the 75th.

Sevilla surged forward and quickly found a deserved goal from Rakitic with Barcelona looking tired and slow to react. The Croatia midfielder then served up a corner kick for Coke to volley in and make it 2-2.

Messi, however, appeared again when it counted most by undoing the Sevilla defense for Alexis to grab the three points.

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