The game of the season may have just taken place Tuesday in Spain.
Of course, Lionel Messi was at the center of it all, though that wasn’t the plan.
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Messi came off the bench and needed time to fix things given Barcelona allowed four unanswered goals to blow a two-goal lead at Villarreal. He helped drive his team back to a 4-4 draw which stopped Atletico Madrid from pulling to within seven points of first place in La Liga.
Barca is now unbeaten in 18 league matches since losing 4-3 to Real Betis on Nov. 11.
The final two goals were majestic.
Barcelona led 2-0 after 16 minutes through Philippe Coutinho and Malcom, but the hosts made it 2-1 in short order and scored twice in the first 17 minutes of the second half.
Messi came on for Coutinho just before Villarreal scored their third, then watched as Carlos Bacca cut through the Barca back line to make it 4-2 with 10 minutes to play.
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Alvaro Gonzalez gave Barca some hope with an 86th minute red card for a harsh challenge on Suarez.
Messi then scored a vicious, spinning, 89th minute free kick that — really, you have to see the angle from behind his attempt — whirled just past a defender and defied the flying Sergio Asenjo by smashing the post before zipping around the back of the goal.
But Barca still managed to make it look like it would not be able to pull off a miracle as Messi zipped a long range effort over the goal and then Asenjo made a terrific stop after Messi fed Jordi Alba onto the doorstep.
A lofted pass then led to a corner kick. Enter Suarez.