Magic Messi returns to push Barcelona closer to title
May 5, 2013 -- Updated 2229 GMT (0629 HKT)
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates his first goal during Sunday's 4-2 Spanish league win over Real Betis.
- Barcelona two points away from league title after Sunday's 4-2 win over Real Betis
- Lionel Messi scores twice after Barca twice come from behind at Camp Nou
- Messi takes his tally to 60 goals this season, 46 of them in La Liga
- Barca can wrap up 22nd league title with win over Atletico Madrid next Sunday
(CNN) -- Lionel Messi helped Barcelona bounce back from Champions League heartache as he came off the bench to score twice against Real Betis on Sunday and edge the Catalan club closer to the Spanish title.
The four-time world player of the year was an unused substitute in the 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in Wednesday's second leg of the semifinal at the Camp Nou, apparently not yet recovered from his hamstring problem.
But he made an instant impact after coming on just before the hour mark against Betis, as David Villa was the man to make way straight after leveling the score at 2-2.
The Argentina star curled in a superb free-kick on 59, then hit the crossbar with another set-piece before -- in the 70th minute -- finishing off a low cross from Alexis Sanchez, who had been put in space on the right by an exquisite backheel from Andres Iniesta.
CNN Football Club: Bayern dominate Barca
Hargreaves: Scholes is the best
'Slavery' accusations hit Qatar football
CNN Football Club: German giants rise
Read: Barcelona humiliated by Bayern in semis
It put Barca 11 points clear of second-placed defending champions Real Madrid with four games to play, meaning victory at third-placed Atletico Madrid next Sunday will be enough to seal a 22nd domestic crown.
Messi has now scored 60 goals this season, 46 of them in La Liga -- where he has found the net in his past 21 appearances.
Barcelona had made the worst possible start as seventh-placed Betis took the lead in under two minutes through Colombia striker Dorlan Pabon, who scored his sixth goal since joining on loan in January.
Sanchez equalized inside 10 minutes, heading his ninth league goal this season from Iniesta's cross, and Barca almost took the lead just before halftime when Cristian Tello smashed a shot against the underside of the bar -- the ball appeared to hit the line before bouncing to safety.
However, Betis hit back with an even better effort as midfielder Ruben Perez -- on loan from Atletico Madrid -- fired in a piledriver from long range to give his side the lead at the interval.
That lasted until the 55th minute, when Villa found space at the far post to nod in Dani Alves' right-wing cross before Messi took over.
Sevilla moved up to eighth place with a 3-0 win over Espanyol that further dented the Barcelona-based side's faint hopes of European qualification.
Real Zaragoza moved out of the bottom three with a 3-0 win that left Rayo Vallecano behind Sevilla on goal difference, while bottom club Mallorca drew 1-1 with midtable Levante.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.