Barcelona lost at home in La Liga for the first time in more than two years as Real Betis pulled off a stunning 4-3 victory Messi scoring twice on his return from injury.
Barca last endured defeat on their own patch against Alaves in September 2016 but, following 42 games unbeaten, their run was halted by a brilliant, counter-attacking display from Betis.
After five games out injured, Messi returned to Barca’s starting line-up but his two goals, one from the penalty spot and another deep into injury-time, proved little more than consolations.
Junior Firpo and Joaquin had put Betis two up at the interval before Messi sparked hopes of a comeback from the spot. Giovani Lo Celso then capitalized on a rare mistake from Marc-Arturo ter Stegen only for Barca to come again, Arturo Vidal making it 3-2, having come on as a substitute.
Ivan Rakitic was sent off, however, with nine minutes left and Sergio Canales added a fourth for Betis before Messi poked home in the 92nd minute.
Bara stays top of the table despite the defeat but their lead is down to one point, with Atletico Madrid now breathing down their necks in second, while Espanyol will have a chance to move level on points with the Catalans when they visit Sevilla later on Sunday.
Betis seemed faster, sharper and hungrier while Barcelona’s midfield was repeatedly carved open on the break.
It took five passes for the opener, the last a first-time drive from William Carvalho to free Junior down the left. He weaved inside Sergi Roberto and found the net. Barca had chances. Lenglet on the stretch but his lungins finish was tipped over by Pau Lopez. Ter Stegen denied Cristian Tello with his legs. Betis were soon pouring onto Barca’s defense again, with Junior’s cross evading everyone before finding Lo Celso on the opposite side of the box. His cute cut-back picked out veteran winger Joaquin, who stabbed in Betis second.
Vidal replaced the jaded Arthur Melo at halftime and shot within a minute of the restart.
Messi feathered a through-ball for Sergi but Betis survived the scramble as Luis Suarez lashed wide. Messi added his second in injury-time, tapping Vidal pass over the line.
The video assistant referee deemed Messi onside but there was no more late drama as Betis held on for a shock victory.
From Online Sources