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Lionel Messi saves Barcelona's unbeaten season with dramatic late comeback

Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Sevilla vs Barcelona – Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville, Spain – March 31, 2018 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scores their second goal REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Perfection was petering out. It appeared, for 85 minutes, that there would be no history. Not this year. Not in Spain. Not for a team seemingly just a tad too imperfect to make itself immortal.

Then Lionel Messi arrived. And perfection survived.

Messi came off the bench to lead a furious late Barcelona comeback against Sevilla, from 2-0 down in the 87th minute to level at 2-2 in the 89th. He equalized with a stunning 20-yard strike to keep Barcelona’s unbeaten La Liga season alive.

No Spanish team has ever traversed an entire 38-game top-flight season unscathed, and for the vast majority of Saturday’s clash at Sevilla, history appeared to be catching up with Barcelona. The Catalans, hundreds of miles from home and with their star man on the bench, went behind 10 minutes before halftime to a goal from Franco Vazquez.

They then went further behind five minutes after the break. With Sergio Busquets also out with injury, their midfield and defense unravelled, their flaws in the process of being exposed. Luis Muriel did exacerbated the damage:

But Messi, having recovered from a hamstring injury, arrived on the scene in the 58th minute. Immediately, the game turned. Chances started to flow at both ends.

But for 30 minutes, the goals didn’t come. Jesus Navas actually had the best chance, and could have wrapped up a special win for Sevilla.

As the game drew nearer to a close, and Barcelona’s unbeaten season gasped for air, Barca still needed two. It needed two to stave off a first defeat in 37 games – a first defeat in almost an entire calendar year.

Then one did. Luis Suarez scraped home the first on a corner. A minute later, Messi performed his magic. Commentators and fans around the world screamed and squealed in some combination of astonishment and delight. And with eight games to go, the unbeaten season remains on course.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.