sunny Sevillian afternoon greeted the players at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, and the action on the pitch in the opening stages was just as bright as both sides sought to dictate the early tempo.
Barça settled the quicker, keeping possession for long periods and forcing Sevilla to play on the counter. A congested midfield ensured that much of the play was concentrated down the channels, with both goalkeepers relatively untroubled in the first 20 minutes.
On 21, a break from deep in Sevilla territory ended with Jesus Navas putting the hosts ahead. A strong header from Arturo Vidal three minutes later had Vaclik at full stretch as Barça went in search of the equaliser, and they didn’t have to wait long as Lionel Messifired home a stunning left-foot volley against his favourite opponents (1-1, min 26).
End to end action made for an absorbing watch, and four minutes before the break Gabriel Mercado was on hand to sweep the Andalusians back into the lead.
Ousmane Dembélé and Sergi Roberto were introduced at the second half as Ernesto Valverde sought to reassert Barça’s authority, and the former was soon involved with his pace troubling the Sevilla defence.
It was from the Frenchman’s assist that Messi bagged his second equaliser of the afternoon, this time a fine curling right-foot effort from the edge of the area. The captain almost had his hat-trick with 12 minutes left to play, Vaclik recovering to tip his shot over the bar.
Barça’s third change on 78 saw Carles Aleñá replace Philippe Coutinho and the youngster’s deflected shot fell nicely into Messi’s path for his hat-trick goal on 84. The Argentinian was in the right place at the right time to chip the ball home from close range and register his 50th career treble.
With Sevilla pushing hard to get themselves back in the game, it was the visitor’s turn to strike on the break, Luis Suarez getting on the score sheet in injury time with a deft lob.