History repeated itself at Camp Nou as Deportivo La Coruna came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday.
Only four players survived from Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen in left-back Jordi Alba, midfielder Ivan Rakitic and forwards Messi and Sandro Ramirez – the latter of whom continued to deputise in the Neymar’s groin-induced absence.
However, Barca were boosted by the return of Sergi Roberto, who was free to make his first appearance since the end of November off the substitutes’ bench, having recovered from an ankle injury.
Luis Enrique admitted prior to kick-off that his side could have done with an easier opponent than Depor in the build-up to next week’s Club World Cup, and Victor Sanchez’s men had lost only one of their last 11 matches, while they secured their top-flight status in Catalonia on the final day of last season.
Barca enjoyed the lion’s share of possession with their usual swagger, but the Galicians coped admirably with the onslaught and carved out the best chance of the first half as Jonathan Rodriguez failed to beat Claudio Bravo from point-blank range after he was found in behind with a square ball from the right.
Something out of the extraordinary needed to happen for the deadlock to be broken, and it came from a swish of Messi’s left boot, the Argentine bending a free kick over the wall and into the top-right corner of German Lux’s net.
Depor enjoyed a brief revival in the opening stages of the restart, but the Barca juggernaut eventually got going as no-one managed to finish off Andres Iniesta’s perfectly-clipped ball across Lux’s goal, neither could Sandro tuck away Suarez’s cutback in the box.
Barca did find the back of the net shortly after through Suarez, who finished off a classic, tiki-taka move in the box from Jordi Alba’s first-time pass, but the No 9 was adjudged offside, although replays showed him to be level when the left-back played the ball to him.
Nonetheless, they seemed to have wrapped up the points when Ivan Rakitic smashed home a thunderous drive from outside the box for only the Croatian’s third goal of the season.
However, a turning point came from an unexpected source in Depor substitute Miguel Cardoso, who promptly threaded Lucas Perez through on goal, the forward evading Jeremy Mathieu applying a curling finish past Bravo to overtake Cristiano Ronaldo in the Pichichi standings.
The Galicians continued to knock on the door and subsequently completed the comeback with only four minutes remaining through Alex Bergantinos, who scored his first goal in three years – the last also coming against Barca – as he capitalised on another Mathieu lapse to rifle a finish home.
The result leaves Barca without a win in three matches ahead of the Club World Cup next week, while Depor stay in the top six.
Barcelona 2-2 Deportivo La Coruna
Messi 39, Rakitic 67 (B) Lucas 77, Bergantinos 86 (D)
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba (Mathieu 77); Busquets, Rakitic (Sergi 72), Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Sandro (Munir 68)
Deportivo: Lux; Laure, Arribas, Sidnei, Fernando; Juanfran (Cardoso 70) Bergantinos, Fajr, Luisinho (Dominguez 46); Lucas; Rodriguez (Luis Alberto 58)
Referee: Sanchez Martinez