Messi helps Barcelona equal record
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP):Lionel Messi scored with an unstoppable free kick to help Barcelona come from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 yesterday, a record-equalling 34th game without loss that kept the champions on track to retain their Spanish league title.Sevilla’s Victor “Vitolo” Machin struck first for the visitors in the 20th minute, but Messi curled home his free kick 11 minutes later before Gerard Pique put Barcelona ahead just after half-time.Barcelona equalled Madrid’s record unbeaten streak in all competitions from 1988-89. Barcelona’s last loss in any competition was at Sevilla on October 3.”The record means nothing to me,” said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. “If we win the title, fine, but, if not, then it means nothing to me.”Luis Enrique’s team is certainly on course to win the league. In fact, they have a chance to repeat their rare treble of league, cup and Champions League trophies from last year.Barcelona’s 10th consecutive Liga win maintained their eight-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid. Third-place Real Madrid, which lost 1-0 to Atletico on Saturday, fell 12 points behind the pacesetters with 12 rounds to go.Sevilla, which remained dangerous until the final whistle, slipped down to sixth place. Unai Emery’s team will have the opportunity to avenge the defeat when they meet Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on May 22.”It’s tough for a defeat to strengthen you,” Emery said. “To beat Barca, you have to find that extra something because we are probably talking about the best team in the world.”Elsewhere Sunday, Villarreal eased to a 3-0 win over 10-man Levante to cement their hold on fourth place, while Athletic Bilbao won 3-0 at Valencia in a preview of their Europa League round-of-16 clash.