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In the third of three league games in a week at Camp Nou, Barça failed to make it nine points out of nine in an end-to-end classic with Valencia. After going behind early on, the Catalans managed to turn thing around, with one player scoring his 643rd goal for the club and the other scoring his first. But the visitors managed to find an answer and it all ended with the teams collecting one point each.
Valencia strike first
Barça controlled the game early on, without too much coming of it, but as the first half progressed Valencia were getting into more and more dangerous positions. They'd already squandered a series of chances before they finally did find the net.
Following a fine save from Ter Stegen, it came from the ensuing corner. The unmarked Mouctar Diakhaby met the ball and headed home. As against Real Sociedad midweek, Barça were going to have to play catch-up.
The situation could have been even worse had the German keeper not produced another wonder-save to deny Maxi Gomez, and instead Barça were back level by the break when José Gaya was red carded for pushing Antoine Griezmann down in the area and the ref pointed to the spot. But that was just the start of the drama.
Following a VAR review, the Valencia man was allowed to stay on the field, but the penalty stood. Leo Messi was the man to take it, and that meant history in the making. Score and he’d match the legendary Pelé for goals scored for a single club.
But no. Jaume saved it. The record would have to wait... But not for long!
In the aftermath of the penalty save, the ball ended up lofted high and a Barça head managed to nod it into the goal. Whose head? Messi’s head! So that was the new record and the sides were back level in time for the break!
There was another let-off for Barça when Denis Cheryshev flunked a simple shot, and instead they’d soon be leading, and all thanks to Ronald Araújo. The Uruguayan, out of defence to support a corner, found himself in the area and with the ball coming his way. And he showed that he’s not just a brilliant centre back by meeting the ball perfectly and slamming home the most dramatic of scissor kicks.
Some goal, his first for the club… and that was 2-1!
Valencia level again
It looked like Barça finally had this game by the horns, but Valencia had other plans. Gaya delivered, Gomez connected and the visitors were back on level terms.
Mingueza, Pedri, Coutinho… It felt like everyone apart from Ter Stegen was having a pop at goal as Barça surged forward in search of a winner. Entertaining for the neutral, but agonising for Barça fans, because Valencia were getting chances too. As the Spanish say, the game was ‘broken’. Anything could happen now…
Plenty did, but no goals. A historic day for Leo Messi, but sadly no three points to celebrate the occasion with.
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