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It was a bright, early start at a cold Camp Nou, and within a minute, Celta’s Sergi Gómez had been forced off after falling awkardly. Both teams were able to put together some decent passages of play in the opening quarter hour, including a sparkling run from his own half by Lionel Messi, without troubling either keeper.
The deadlock was broken on 20 minutes once Iago Aspas had beaten Barça’s offside trap. An incredible point-blank save by Marc-André ter Stegen from Maxi Gomez rebounded back to Aspas, who made no mistake. Just a couple of minutes later, Messi was in the right place at the right time to hammer home the equaliser, his first in five games and 13th of the season.
Barça began to dominate in terms of possession and chances, with Luis Suárez flagged for offside and Messi striking the outside of the post. Paulinho’s towering header, saved by Rubén, was yet more evidence of the threat that the home side possessed heading into the break.
The Brazilian midfielder had the first chance of the second half, marauding into the box but sending his shot narrowly wide from an acute angle. Though the visitors then had a 10 minute spell when Barça were kept at arms length, sharp and exquisite pass and move between Messi, Jordi Alba and Suárez saw the latter power Ernesto Valverde’s side into the lead just after the hour mark. Moments later it was almost three as Messi was denied by a full-length stop from Rubén.
Aspas was again involved in Celta’s equaliser, a quick turn of pace taking him past Samuel Umtiti before squaring to Maxi Gomez to fire home. In the course of the move, Barça’s French centre-back felt his hamstring and was immediately subbed off, replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.
A well-rehearsed free-kick move almost paid dividends as Gerard Piqué became the second Barça player to hit the woodwork, and with five minutes left to play, Messi’s close-range header went agonisingly wide. At the other end, ter Stegen again provided the heroics with Pione Sisto bearing down on his goal. Further chances weren’t taken meaning the points were shared.
Barça are next in action on Tuesday in the Champions League, an 8.45pm CET kick-off at the Camp Nou against Sporting Clube de Portugal.
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