A Lionel Messi inspired fightback salvaged a point for Barcelona against Valencia on Saturday February 2nd at Camp Nou, and earned a 2-2 draw with Valencia. Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona side now go six points clear of Atlético Madrid, who will be away at Real Betis on Sunday, February 3rd.
The visitors started the game very strongly with captain Daniel Parejo having a shot saved, and Denis Cheryshev smashing the post on the rebound. As the home side began to grow into the game, they were hit by the counter attack.
There was a fantastic run from Rodrigo as he managed to slide the ball through to Kevin Gameiro, who struck past Marc- André ter Stegen, to give Valencia the lead. There were complaints of what looked like a foul on Messi in the build-up, but this was dismissed.
The Catalans were soon 2-0 down through the penalty spot, after Sergi Roberto blatantly pushed over Daniel Wass in the box. Parejo gave the goalkeeper no chance with the penalty, as he thumped the ball into the top left corner.
The reigning champions, Barcelona, found themselves with a mountain to climb after only 32 minutes. But they were gifted a lifeline in the 39th minute when Toni Lato was penalized for a foul on Nelson Semedo in the box, despite replays showing only minimal contact. Messi slid the penalty straight down the middle to get his team back in the game.
Roberto struck a shot against the post and Messi also missed a clear chance as Barcelona pushed for an equaliser before the end of the first half.
As the second half began, Valencia were camped in their own half, as the La Liga leaders began to increase the pressure on them. But the visitors still looked dangerous on the break, with Rodrigo coming close to restoring their two -goal advantage. But eventually the pressure payed off, as Messi curled home from outside the box just past the hour mark.
The home side pushed for a winner but found it hard to break down a stubborn defence as both sides settled for the point.