Lionel Messi's season has started where his last one left off.
Messi scored two goals on free kicks in the opening 15 minutes of the 2015 UEFA Super Cup, which pitted his Barcelona (reigning Champions League winner) against Spanish foe Sevilla (reigning Europa League winner) in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Tuesday.
Sevilla scored first, on a third-minute free kick from another Argentine, Ever Banega, before Messi capitalized on both free-kick opportunities he was granted. Both times he curled inch-perfect attempts inside the right post, leaving Sevilla's Portuguese goalkeeper Beto with no chance and seizing control of the match for Barcelona at the time:
Rafinha scored again for Barcelona in the 44th minute to make the score 3–1 and Luis Suárez added a fourth for Barcelona in the 52nd minute before Sevilla mounted an impressive comeback. Jose Antonio Reyes pulled one back for Sevilla in the 57th, and Kevin Gameiro netted from the penalty spot in the 72nd to pull within 4–3. A pair of substitutes combined in the 81st minute for the equalizer, with Yevhen Konoplyanka finishing off a ball from Ciro Immobile.
Barcelona prevailed in extra time, with Pedro–rumored to be leaving for Manchester United–coming off the bench and scoring in the 115th minute. He finished from the doorstep on a rebound after Messi had a free kick blocked by the wall and his ensuing follow saved by Beto.
This performance marked the first time Messi had scored twice on a free kick in an official match through his 586-match career, according to Infostrada Sports. He'll have two more matches to play prior to the start of Barcelona's La Liga title defense, with the club facing Athletic Bilbao in the two-leg Spanish Super Cup on Aug. 14 and 17. Barcelona also plays its La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao on Aug. 23.
- Erin Flynn