Barcelona star Lionel Messi made another debut on Tuesday to save his team from embarrassing 4-2 defeat and converted it to 4-4 against Villarreal.
Goals from Philippe Coutinho and Malcom gave Barca a 2-0 lead early on, but by the 80th minute they were 4-2 behind.
Villarreal then went down to 10 men and in the 90th minute, Messi produced yet another stunning free-kick to spark the comeback.
From just outside the 18-yard box, the Argentine rifled a strike into the top-left corner that struck the post on its way in.
Three minutes later Barcelona were level through Luis Suarez’s powerful yet accurate drive on the half-volley with his weaker left foot.
Since the game Barcelona have been accused of being too reliant on Messi, who now has 32 goals in La Liga this season and has single-handedly fired them to top of the table.
Most managers would deny that’s the case, but not Ernesto Valverde.
“Of course there is Messi dependence,” Barcelona’s manager told a press conference. “It would exist in any team in the world, but when he is not there we also have to play and try to win.
“Leo is fundamental for us and marks the style. It is well known that he is the best in the world for something.”
Messi’s free-kick against Villarreal took his tally in La Liga for the season to six, which is twice as many as anyone else in Europe’s top five leagues.
He’s the king of set pieces and now a compilation video has emerged of his six free-kicks this campaign that shows he can score from anywhere using any technique.
Whether it’s shooting under the wall, curling over the top, using his laces or chipping the ball, Messi can do them all. In fact, he’s done them all this season alone.
Outrageous. No one can deny Messi is the best free-kick taker in the world right now, which just adds another string to his bow.
He also holds the record for most free-kicks scored in La Liga history (28) – and you wouldn’t put it past him to make it 30 before the season finishes.