Paco Alcacer stole the limelight in Lionel Messi’s 600th game for Barcelona as his two goals saw off Sevilla 2-1 at the Nou Camp.
La Liga leaders Barcelona were rewarded for a blistering start when Alcacer capitalised on an error from Sevilla captain Sergio Escudero after 23 minutes.
The visitors responded strongly in the second half and levelled through Guido Pizarro (59), but Alcacer turned home from Ivan Rakitic’s cross just six minutes later.
Victory for Barcelona sees them restore their four-point gap at the top of La Liga, with second-placed Valencia cruising to a 3-0 win over Leganes earlier in the day.
Barcelona looked in the mood from the off, but failed to take an early lead despite chances for Sergio Busquets, Messi and Luis Suarez.
A lapse in concentration from Samuel Umtiti allowed Luis Muriel to have Sevilla’s first sight of goal, but the forward’s attempt just evaded the top corner.
The breakthrough came midway through the half for Barca when a poor touch from Escudero laid it on a plate for Alcacer to roll the ball under goalkeeper David Soria.
Sevilla looked like a different side after the break, and they levelled just before the hour-mark when Pizarro leaped above Gerard Pique to head home from a corner.
The equaliser was the wake-up call Barcelona needed, and after Pique saw his effort hit the bar, the hosts retook the lead when Alcacer turned home Rakitic’s pinpoint cross.
Try as he might, Messi could not get a goal to cap his 600th appearance for the club, with David Soria saving well to ensure the Argentine remained on 523 goals for Barcelona.
There were a few eyebrows raised when Ernesto Valverde handed Alcacer his first start in the league since the opening weekend, but the Spaniard ultimately justified his selection.
The 24-year-old was in the right place at the right time to steal in for the opener, and while his second was delivered perfectly by Rakitic, it was Alcacer who made the darting run and pointed out to the Croatian exactly where he wanted it.
Playing alongside Messi and Suarez, it is not often you will see Alcacer the headline-maker, and it was just a shame to see him hauled off immediately after his second, when a hat-trick looked a real possibility.