|Villarreal 1-1 Barcelona | Match Report|
FC Barcelona will need to wait until the next game to get their first win of the new year as they needed another Messi intervention to escape their second embarrassment in three days after he scored to help them win a point at El Madrigal against Villarreal on Sunday night.
The game ended 1-1 with Nicola Sansone opening the scoring for the hosts after series of missed opportunities by Barça.. Barça kept on being unlucky but then Messi scored on the 90th minute from a stunning free kick to give Barça a point.
Luis Enrique surprisingly left Ivan Rakitic out of the squad and played Gomes alongside Iniesta and Busquets in midfield whilst also preferring Javier Mascherano and Lucas Digne over Umtiti and Jordi Alba.
Barça started the game in fine fashion with Asenjo denying Neymar early on and a fine intervention preventing Suárez from reaching a ball, both chances created by Messi. Iniesta also came close while Jonathan dos Santos and Sansone had efforts for the hosts.
Barça were in control of possession but it was as if that was what Villarreal wanted as they relied in their counter attack. Messi had a header tipped by Asenjo and the goalkeeper was alert to save a Suárez drive both after Neymar came close with a shot wide.
The second half started with Barça looking bright but then four minutes later Digne gave the ball away to Roberto Soriano who found Pato, the Brazilian carried the ball with Piqué inexplicably moving back before setting up Sansone who beat Ter Stegen with a low shot.
Neymar missed a great chance later on has he had a poor shot saved by Asenjo after a smart free kick with Messi. Messi grew into the game and he had a curling shot which had already left Asenjo rooted to the spot come off the upright.
Neymar already had a penalty appeal turned down, but then Barça couldn’t believe their eyes when the referee waved away theur next appeal as Bruno Soriano clearly handled the ball in the box like a goalkeepeer, preventing a Messi shot to go on target.
Villarreal also had an appeal for penalty which referee Villanueva waved off after a shot hit Mascherano’s hand inside the box. Bruno Soriano then handled the ball in the box one more time but Villanueva made his routine decision.
It looked destined for a loss but then Messi carried the ball and won a foul close to the Villarreal box on 90th minute which he stood up to take and unleashed a powerful shot in the direction of just where Asenjo was standing, fooling the goalkeeper to think he’d go the other way, Villarreal’s Jaume Costa saw red later on but it was too little too late for Luis Enrique’s men who dropped two points, putting them 5 behind Real Madrid.