Ronald Koeman starts Messi on bench then brings him on at half-time; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Greizmann, Pedri also on scoresheet

Lionel Messi responded to being benched with a second-half double as Barcelona ended a four-game winless streak in La Liga to beat Real Betis 5-2. READ ALSO :southampton-beat-newcastle-to-top-epl-table-first-time-ever-photos/

Barca’s captain was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up by coach Ronald Koeman, whose side were pegged back by the break when Antonio Sanabria cancelled out Ousmane Dembele’s superb opening strike on the stroke of half-time.

But Messi was brought on at the start of the second period and promptly produced a sublime dummy to allow Antoine Griezmann to tap into an unguarded net and put Barca back in front in the 49th minute.

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The Frenchman had missed four chances before the break – including squandering a penalty – before making amends

Messi, who had replaced Ansu Fati, then stretched their lead in the 61st minute by dispatching a spot-kick after Aissa Mandi was shown a straight red card – following a VAR review – for using his arm to block a shot from Dembele.

Betis set up a tense final 15 minutes when Loren slotted home from 10 yards, but Messi wrapped things up in the 82nd minute after a one-two with Sergi Roberto.

The playmaker was denied his hat-trick by an offside flag before midfielder Pedri added a fifth in stoppage time – the teenager’s first goal in La Liga.

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