By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
The joy of six. Barcelona fought back from two goals down to claim all three points with a wonderful win on Saturday against a Sevilla side who will feel hard done by, following events on the Sanchez Pizjuan pitch. But whatever your opinion, the scoreline stands, Barca made it half a dozen victories in La Liga, as they preserved their perfect start to the campaign and, in the process, piled pressure on Real Madrid.
Deprived of the services of their two defensive darlings, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, coach Tito Vilanova was once again forced to field the curious centre-back pairing of Javier Mascherano and Alex Song. And once again it looked vulnerable.
A mistake from Song allowed Sevilla to break for the first goal, while Mascherano's unfortunate clearance set up Piotr Trochowski. Dani Alves should have got tighter on the German midfielder, who was allowed time and space to shoot, and Victor Valdes' attempt at a save seemed half-hearted, too. It was not a pretty sight for Barcelona fans.
Trochowski had recently scored the winner against Madrid at the same stadium but was forced to depart through injury not long later. The result looked as if it would stay in Sevilla's favour, however, when Alvaro Negredo made it 2-0 shortly after the break.
Barcelona's flying Liga start
|2||The goals contributed by Cesc Fabregas on Saturday - his first since February in a Barca shirt|
|3||Twice now have Barcelona come from behind to win 3-2 in La Liga this term - at Osasuna and Sevilla|
|6||Six wins so far for the Catalans, only the fourth time in their history they have begun with half a dozen wins|
|17||Goals scored so far. Messi is the top scorer with six in La Liga|
|18||Points picked up, leaving Barca 11 ahead of Madrid, provisionally that is|
This time, a poor pass from Sergio Busquets allowed Sevilla to attack and Negredo shook off Song all too easily before clipping a fine finish over Valdes. There appeared no way back for the Catalans.
But Pedro saw a shot cleared off the line just a minute later by Albert Botia at the other end, and shortly afterwards Cesc Fabregas popped up when his team needed him most to cut the deficit in half with a lovely left-footed drive from the edge of the box. It was his first goal for the Catalan club since February - and it would prove vital.
Indeed, Fabregas was very much the protagonist because his next involvement saw Sevilla reduced to 10 men. The former Arsenal captain threw himself theatrically to the turf, after squaring up with Gary Medel, and the Chilean was sent off for an alleged headbutt. After the game, the midfielder insisted the punishment was fair, as he told a journalist: "Do you want me to do it to you? Then you can decide if it was a red..." But a dismissal seemed harsh from referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz.
That was after 72 minutes and the official was under the spotlight again as Cesc made it 2-2 just before the end. This time, he failed to penalise Thiago Alcantara's clear handball in the build-up to the goal, although contact had been involuntary and the decision therefore appeared the right one.
Michel was furious and the Sevilla coach was sent to the stands for protesting. But he will have been even more angry to see his side concede a third deep into added time, when Lionel Messi set up David Villa for a dramatic winner - an association - and subsequent celebration - which dispelled recent rift reports.More importantly, Barca had shown their strength of character once again and made it six out of six to move provisionally 11 points clear of title rivals Real Madrid, who host Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. And with the Clasico coming next weekend, it is a game Jose Mourinho's men simply must win.
There is a lot left of La Liga and we are still in September, but the deficit is already significant. For Madrid, however, the margin for error is not.