Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis: Lionel Messi's record as a substitute is incredible


Lionel Messi was a surprise absentee when Ronald Koeman named his Barcelona XI to face Real Betis. 

With the Blaugrana on a run of four league games without a win at Camp Nou, nobody expected to see the Argentine named among the substitutes. 

However, his manager quickly moved to clarify that the forward had a slight ankle problem and wasn't fit enough to start. 

"We talked to Leo, who came out of the Dynamo [Kyiv] game with a niggle and he was not fit to play from the start," Koeman said in his post-match press conference.

"He was on the bench in case we needed him. If he was physically OK, he would have played from the start."

Need him they did, as Betis went toe-to-toe with Barcelona and went into the break with the scores level at 1-1. 

Messi's introduction after half time had an immediate impact as he set up Antoine Griezmann to score with a clever dummy. 

Messi's starring role 

The 33-year-old then netted a brace of his own - the first coming from the spot, his 12th consecutive successful penalty.

His second was his first from open play this season. Take a look at some of his highlights below: 

Messi's performance secured all three points for Barcelona and it's no surprise given his extraordinary record as a substitute. 

Inevitably, it's rare that he is left out through choice, but he has made 83 appearances coming off the bench for the club, scoring 38 goals and assisting five in all competitions. 

No other player has scored as many La Liga goals off the bench, with 26 in 55 games. 

Real Betis must have been dreading seeing him warm up, not least because of his record against Los Verdiblancos - that was his eighth brace, while he's also scored two hat-tricks in the fixture.

Koeman leaving him out for the first half turned out to be no cause for alarm after all. 

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