Champions Barcelona lose it’s La Liga lead to Sevilla on Sunday after they drew 1-1 at Valencia thanks to another Lionel Messi strike.
Barcelona missed the chance to return to the top of La Liga. Messi’s fine goal was not enough.
Messi’s classy goal cancelled out Ezequiel Garay’s opener, which came after 79 seconds. But an uninspiring game at the Mestalla meant Barça’s winless run in the league stretched to four games.
After winning their first six games in all competitions this season, Barça’s only win in their last five has come at Tottenham in the Champions League. They are now second, a point behind the new leaders, Sevilla, who beat Celta Vigo 2-1 earlier on Sunday.
Valencia forced an early corner and, when Thomas Vermaelen failed to deal with Parejo’s delivery, Garay bundled in at the far post. Michy Batshuayi then fired inches wide as Barça struggled to get to grips with their opponents.
Slowly, though, Ernesto Valverde’s side began to exert their authority and, after Luis Suárez had fanciful appeals for a penalty turned down, they equalised. Messi had been quiet but he grabbed his 11th goal of the season after 23 minutes when he played a neat one-two with Suárez and found the bottom corner from 20 yards. While Valencia emerged for the second half with added gusto Barcelona appeared leggy as their 4-2 win over Tottenham in the Champions League appeared to have caught up with them. Cheryshev had Marc-André ter Stegen scrambling and Kevin Gameiro shot just over.
Neto needed to save from Messi but the striker, along with Suárez and Philippe Coutinho, struggled to make a second-half impact. The Argentina star fired a free-kick over with 20 minutes left as Barça’s threat began to wane. They struggled to break through Valencia’s solid defence, well marshalled by Garay, and had to settle for a point.
Barca – now four without a win in the league – fell behind when Gerard Pique made a mess of a clearance and Ezequiel Garay tapped in at the back post. Messi then swapped passes with Luis Suarez and drilled in from 20 yards to equalise. But Barca could not find a winner to leave Sevilla top of the table. In Valencia, Barcelona had 75% of possession but could only muster five shots on target all game, with Messi going closest to a winner when Neto saved his low shot.
The Catalans fell behind in the second minute at a bouncing Mestalla stadium after dreadful defending from a corner allowed Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay to stab home from close range.
Barca continued to leak chances but got a foothold in the game thanks to a superb strike in the 23rd minute from Messi, who has been in inspired form recently and delivered a performance for the ages against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
They failed to further breach a superbly organised Valencia, however, racking up a run of three draws and a defeat in four league games, their longest stretch without a win since 2016. The hosts’ French striker Wissam Ben Yedder doubled the lead by nudging the ball home from close range in the 61st minute, although the goal had to be verified by the video assistant referee (VAR) before it was awarded.
“This season it feels like we have to come back in every game and we are swimming against the current but we know that this is going to change,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde. “You always want to win and when you don’t you leave with the sensation that you have dropped two points but you have to recognise that Valencia did a very good job defensively.”
Valencia have now drawn six of their eight league games, with Barcelona – brilliant against Tottenham in midweek – without a league win since beating Sociedad last month.