Messi nabs 500th goal, sets up Luis Suarez winner to lift Barcelona over gritty Sevilla
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez teamed up to lift Barcelona over a gritty Sevilla club. AP

LIONEL Messi scored his 500th goal for Barcelona as the Catalan club won a thriller against Sevilla, 2-1, to stay two points behind Real Madrid on Sunday (Monday, Manila time).

Messi was the difference again, scoring an equalizer with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the 43rd for his 500th goal for Barcelona.

Messi is the club's all-time leading scorer with 469 goals in official matches and 31 in friendlies.

Not content with that milestone, Messi set up Luis Suarez's winner with a precise pass in the 61st in the back-and-forth game at Sevilla.

Messi and Suarez lead the league in scoring with eight goals each.

Victor "Vitolo" Machin had put Sevilla ahead in a breakaway in the 15th, speeding past a defender after a perfect through ball by midfielder Pablo Sarabia and firing a low shot past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

It was the fourth straight win for Barcelona, and Sevilla's first home loss in the league this season.

"It's a win that strengthens us as a team," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.

Sevilla, which had beaten Atletico Madrid at home earlier this season, was looking for another big victory to establish itself as a top contender after the arrival of Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli.

In other matches, Villarreal scored a goal in each half to defeat Betis 2-0 and moved to third place with 22 points, five behind Real Madrid.

Seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao was held to a 0-0 draw at Espanyol for its third straight game without a league win.

Celta Vigo moved to eighth after coming from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 at home. Swedish forward John Guidetti scored Celta's winner in the 77th.

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