Barcelona miss chance to return to the top of LaLiga after draw at Valencia

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Barcelona missed the chance to return to the top of LaLiga after being held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia.

Lionel Messi’s classy goal cancelled out Ezequiel Garay opener, which came after just 79 seconds.

But an uninspiring game at the Mestalla meant Barca extended their winless run in the league to four games.

After winning their first six games in all competitions this season, Barca’s only win in their last five has come at Tottenham in the Champions League.

Barca are now second, a point behind new leaders Sevilla who beat Celta Vigo 2-1 earlier on Sunday.

The point moved Valencia up to 14th, two points above the bottom three, but it was a morale-boosting result for the hosts, who have only won once this season.

But following their Champions League draw at Manchester United, Marcelino’s side are finding some consistency.

The big boys in LaLiga have struggled for form this season – with Real Madrid winless and without a goal in their last three top-flight outings.

And it looked like another shock was on when Barca were stunned inside two minutes.

Ezequiel Garay celebrates his opening goal
Ezequiel Garay celebrates his opening goal (Alberto Saiz/AP)

Michy Batshuayi then fired inches wide as Barca struggled to get to grips with the hosts.

Slowly though, Ernesto Valverde’s side began to exert their authority and after Luis Suarez had fanciful appeals for a penalty turned down they equalised.

Messi had been quiet but he grabbed his 11th goal of the season after 23 minutes when he played a neat one-two with  Suarez and found the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Once level, Barcelona dominated possession without seriously troubling Murara Neto in the Valencia goal before the break.

But they survived a scare in a rare Valencia raid when Jose Luis Gaya drilled wide after Denis Cheryshev’s shot was blocked.

The hosts emerged for the second half with more gusto while Barcelona appeared leggy as their 4-2 win over Tottenham in the Champions League caught up with them.

Cheryshev had Marc-Andre ter Stegen scrambling and Kevin Gameiro shot just over.

Neto needed to save from Messi but the striker, along with Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, struggled to make a second-half impact.

The Argentina star fired a free-kick over with 20 minutes left as Barca’s threat began to wane.

They struggled to break through Valencia’s solid defence, well marshalled by Garay, and had to settle for a point.

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