Ernesto Valverde picked a starting XI with the Copa del Rey in mind, and his side eased into the game against Celta with Paulinho having the first sight of goal for the visitors in the fifth minute. Fine link up play between Philippe Coutinho and Denis Suárez then saw the latter flash a shot across goal as Barça looked to gain an early advantage.
An incredible save from Marc-André ter Stegen in a one on one with Maxi Gómez kept the scores level, whilst the Blaugrana continued to create the lion’s share of chances in the early stages.
Paulinho’s towering header came back off of the post and at the other end the visitors’ defence held firm in a first half that was full of incident. With 10 minutes left until the break, the ball fell kindly for Ousmane Dembélé, and the young Frenchman made no mistake with a powerful finish to score his first La Liga goal (1-0).
On the strike of half-time, a quick break from Celta saw Jonny tap home the equaliser from three yards out, and it was the hosts who took the initiative at the start of the second period.
A double substitution on the hour (Messi and Sergi Roberto for Andre Gomes and Coutinho), seemed to galvanise Barça, and within three minutes the visitors went ahead again, Paco Alcácer getting the faintest of touches to a Paulinho goal-bound effort. Iago Aspas was through on goal shortly afterwards, and with no other option, Sergi Roberto brought him down and was handed a red card.
Further expected pressure from Celta brought its reward with eight minutes left to play, Aspas nipping in at the near post to level the scores again. A frantic last few minutes saw a handful of half chances passed up, with the end result that Barça earn a hugely creditable point and extend their unbeaten record in the league to 40 matches.
FC Barcelona are next in action on Saturday, April 21, in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano (9.30pm CEST)