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.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
After a miserable Champions League defeat to Olympiakos, CNN's John Sinnott wonders if Manchester United is officially in trouble.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
CNN's David Ford analyzes the changing face of Manchester City since Barcelona's last visit to the English club 11 years ago.
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
A ruling that Polish fans will not face legal action after anti-Semitic chanting sparks debate over whether it signals acceptance of such attacks.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
If FIFA really cared about gay rights, why did it give the World Cup to a country where homosexuality is illegal, asks CNN's James Masters.
CNN's Alex Thomas takes a brave punt on the 2014 champion ahead of Friday's World Cup draw.
Today's five most popular stories