Inspirational Messi rescues draw for Barca in thrilling comeback against Valencia
Lionel Messi dragged Barcelona back from two goals down by scoring twice to snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in a thrilling encounter on Saturday which interrupted the La Liga leaders’ streak of eight consecutive league wins.
Valencia, who hit the woodwork in the second minute, went ahead in the 24th with a well-taken finish from French forward Kevin Gameiro and doubled their lead with a powerful penalty from Dani Parejo in the 32nd.
Messi halved the deficit seven minutes later by scoring for the ninth consecutive game in all competitions, converting from the spot after having a goal chalked off as the referee had already blown his whistle to award the penalty.
Barca’s insatiable captain equalised in the 64th with an unstoppable curling strike from outside the area, averting a first league loss for the league leaders since November and taking them on to 50 points from 22 games.
Messi had to be treated on the sidelines shortly after scoring his second goal but was able to come back on and finish the game.
Coach Ernesto Valverde said the Argentinian had a light muscle strain, throwing his availability for next Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Real Madrid into doubt.
“We have to wait until he does tests, I don’t know what he has, he is feeling some discomfort; I don’t think he’s very bad but I can’t give any information,” Valverde said.
Valverde’s side are six points ahead of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who visit Real Betis on Sunday, and 11 clear of third-placed Real Madrid, who host Alaves on Sunday.
REUTERS/Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon