FC Barcelona retained their unbeaten record in the La Liga as they came back from a goal down to take a point from a feisty local derby away to Espanyol.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, perhaps mindful of his side’s Cup semi-final return leg away to Valencia on Thursday night, left Leo Messi on the subs’ bench along with Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba and gave a chance to Paco Alcacer and Nelson Semedo, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first half was a scrappy affair played under pouring rain and there were few chances, but Espanyol took the lead thanks to Gerard Moreno’s excellent header following a Sergio Garcia cross.
By that time Leo Messi had replaced Alcacer and he supplied the free kick which allowed Gerard Pique to equalise with a powerful header.
Pique’s ‘finger to lips’ gesture to the Espanyol fans who had been insulting him all game making it quite clear how he felt about scoring the goal.
Atletico Madrid then defeated Valencia 1-0 thanks to a splendid second half goal from Angel Correa to close to within nine points of Barca and open up a nine point lead over Valencia in third.