Jordi Alba’s late volley salvaged Barcelona a 1-1 draw with Valencia on Sunday, but the Catalans were denied the win by another ghost goal.
Lionel Messi’s shot in the first half squirmed through Neto’s gloves and crossed the line, yet the goal was controversially not allowed to stand, like in their 1-1 draw with Real Betis back in January, prompting renewed calls for technology to be implemented in La Liga.
With Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano both unavailable, Thomas Vermaelen started his first Liga match for almost two years, while Lionel Messi returned to Barca’s attack.
Valencia, meanwhile, lost Coach Marcelino to a touchline ban and were playing their first game since the death of Jaume Orti, the most successful President in their history.
Both sides went into the clash still unbeaten in the League and occupying its top two places, with the visitors four points clear at the summit.
Los Che had won two of their last three trips to Camp Nou in La Liga, but their last home victory over the Blaugrana came nine years ago in the Copa del Rey semi-finals
Paulinho, at the tip of Barca’s midfield diamond, blasted an early shot on target from around 25 yards out, but Neto managed to palm it over.
The Catalans were dominant for the opening period, and that should’ve resulted in a goal for Messi, but despite the Brazilian spilling his effort over the line, the score remained 0-0 and Simone Zaza nearly added insult to injury on the counterattack.
Luis Suarez then shook off Jose Luis Gaya down the right of Valencia’ box, but his half-volley was kept out by Neto at his near post.
Simone Zaza was found unmarked on the edge of Barca’s box and fired a low drive across Ter Stegen, but it whistled just wide of the far post.
Vermaelen looked like a seasoned professional, slotting seamlessly into the Blaugrana’s backline, but he should’ve at least hit the target with a header, having been completely unmarked at Neto’s near post from a corner.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen got down low to smother Guedes’ cutback for a certain Valencia goal, but the winger succeeded in releasing Jose Luis Gaya on the overlap, before Rodrigo Moreno tapped in the left-back’s low cross.
The striker went on to don an orange wig in remembrance of Orti, who famously wore one during Los Che’s title celebrations in 2004.
Barca began throwing everyone forward, in a bid to force an equaliser, and Suarez pounced on a Geoffrey Kondogbia mistake and rifled a shot at goal, but Neto pushed it away.
Nonetheless, Messi produced a piece of magic – just a day after signing a new contract – as he picked out Alba with a perfectly-clipped ball, and the left-back volleyed into the roof of Neto’s net.
An end-to-end finale saw Valencia clear a shot off the line, before Zaza had a clear sight of Ter Stegen’s goal straight down the other end, yet he looped his finish on to the roof of the German’s net.
Valencia 1-1 Barcelona
Rodrigo 60 (V) Alba 82 (B)
Valencia: Neto; Montoya, Garay (Vezo 86), Gabriel, Gaya; Soler (Mina 89), Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Rodrigo (Andreas 82), Zaza
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Aleix Vidal 80), Vermaelen, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic (Deulofeu 68), Busquets, Iniesta (Denis 72); Paulinho; Messi, Suarez
Referee: Iglesias Villanueva