Barcelona’s struggles in La Liga continue after a disappointing 1-1 draw at the Mestalla against a stubborn Valencia side.
Ezequiel Garay had put the hosts in front after just two minutes before Lionel Messi’s low drive brought the ‘blaugrana’ level 20 minutes later.
Ernesto Valverde’s men are now winless in their last four La Liga fixtures and have surrendered top spot in the table to Sevilla.
Valencia meanwhile lie in a lowly 14th after their fifth draw in their last six league games.
Marcelino’s side piled the pressure on Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde after just two minutes after Gerard Pique’s flick-on at his own corner found Ezequiel Garay, who simply poked the ball into an empty net.
Geoffrey Kondogbia came close to doubling the hosts’ advantage with a bending shot that whizzed past Marc-Andre Ter Stegan’s right-hand post in a frantic opening few minutes. Impressive hold-up play from Kevin Gameiro allowed Michy Batshuayi an effort at goal but his left-footed shot rolled just wide of the far post.
The Belgian went close again minutes after but Ter Stegan was equal to his strike from the edge of the box. Lionel Messi tried his luck from a similar range but his tame effort was easily handled by Neto in the Valencia goal but, Barcelona’s captain was finding space in dangerous areas.
Luis Suárez thought he should have had a penalty after colliding with José Gayá before picking himself up to gently lay the ball back to Messi on the edge of the area. The Argentine strode onto the ball with guile and powered it into the bottom corner, out of Neto’s reach to bring Barça level.Embed from Getty Images
Los Che came close to retaking the lead but Gayá could only flash his shot across goal when the ball fell to him kindly inside the penalty area. After half time, the outside of Denis Cheryshev’s left boot almost found the top corner from distance while Neto’s gloves denied Messi from a tight angle.
Philippe Coutinho was then stifled by Gayá, who managed to poke the ball away from the Brazilian just as he was about to pull the trigger from close range. Valverde’s frustrated figure on the touchline reflected his team’s mood on the pitch as Valencia continued to put out any fires that arose right up until full time.