December 9, 2019, 4:38

Barcelona let lead slip against Celta Vigo

Barcelona let lead slip against Celta Vigo

LaLiga leaders Barcelona had to settle for a point in the lunchtime kick-off as Celta Vigo played their part in an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp.

In-form Iago Aspas opened the scoring on 20 minutes, but Lionel Messi equalised almost immediately and Luis Suarez put the hosts ahead just after the hour mark.

However, Maxi Gomez got the spirited visitors back on level terms after 70 minutes and neither side could muster a winner despite their best endeavours.

The visitors suffered an early setback when Sergi Gomez picked up a shoulder injury following a challenge from Suarez, which saw the Barca striker booked. Sergi Gomez could not continue, and was replaced by Gustavo Cabral in the fourth minute.

Aspas had headed into this match with eight goals in his last seven games in all competitions, and added to that tally by putting Celta ahead in the 20th minute.

Daniel Wass’ ball down the right fed in Aspas, who bore down on goal before unselfishly teeing up strike partner Maxi Gomez. The Uruguayan’s first-time effort was brilliantly saved by the leg of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but Aspas volleyed home the rebound.

The lead lasted less than two minutes, however, before Messi’s 13th LaLiga goal of the season restored parity.

There was an element of fortune as Paulinho’s pass, seemingly intended for Suarez, fell perfectly into the path of Messi, who fired a left-footed shot through the legs of Ruben Blanco.

Barca had by now found their feet, and Suarez had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside before Messi hit the outside of the post from a tight angle and Paulinho’s powerful header was palmed away by Celta goalkeeper Ruben

It was not all one-way traffic, though, and Wass lashed high and wide after surging down the right when he could have cut the ball back for Maxi Gomez.

Andres Iniesta looked less than amused at being replaced by Denis Suarez eight minutes into the second period.

Visiting boss Juan Carlos Unzue – a former Barca team-mate of opposite number Ernesto Valverde, and assistant coach at the Catalan club from 2014 until taking up the Celta reins in May this year – looked to be doing a good job in frustrating his former employers.

But then Barca struck in devastating style. A superb passing move culminated in Messi playing in Jordi Alba, whose pull-back was smashed home from close range by Luis Suarez on 62 minutes.

It was almost 3-1 moments later but Ruben produced a stunning save to keep out Messi’s header.

The league leaders looked in control, but Celta were far from done and stunned their hosts with a well-worked equaliser.

Aspas did well down the right to get the better of Samuel Umtiti, who pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and teed up Maxi Gomez, who took a touch to settle himself before blasting the equaliser past Ter Stegen.

Both sides pushed for the winner in the final 20 minutes – Gerard Pique rounded Ruben only to direct his attempt off target and Messi headed just wide, while at the other end Ter Stegen had to make himself big to block Pione Sisto’s effort after a neat counter-attack – but neither team deserved to lose.


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