Barca held by brave Celta

Barcelona failed to win in La Liga for the second game running after they were held to a 2-2 draw by a spirited Celta Vigo side on Saturday.

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Barca hit the post twice and dominated possession against Celta, but goals from in-form pair Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez earned Juan Carlos Unzue and his troops a deserved point on his return to Camp Nou as Samuel Umtiti also went off with a suspected injury.

Sergi Roberto made his first start in a month for the Blaugrana, whose opponents were coached by Unzue, the former Sevilla goalkeeper having assisted Luis Enrique for three years, prior to succeeding Eduardo Berizzo over the summer.

Barca had lost only once at home to Celta since 1993, yet they conceded four goals in each of their last two trips to Balaidos.

The hosts suffered a setback in as early as the first minute, when Luis Suarez was booked for what seemed to be an innocuous clash with Sergi Gomez, although the defender quickly headed off with a dislocated shoulder.

Lionel Messi soon embarked on a wonderful run from his own half, nutmegging ex-Barca defender Andreu Fontas on the way, but he was blocked off by Hugo Mallo before he could pull the trigger.

However, Gerard Pique failed in trapping Aspas offside, and the striker continued his run, finishing off the rebound from Maxi’s saved effort to give Celta a shock lead.

Yet a matter of seconds later, Messi grabbed his 17th goal of the season as Luis Suarez deflected Paulinho’s flick to the No 10, who fired through Ruben Blanco’s legs.

Suarez appeared to be level when he sprung the visitors’ offside trap and struck past Ruben with aplomb for 2-1, but the flag went up and both sides stayed level.

A sudden onslaught from Barca saw the No 9’s cross-shot deflect to Messi, but his finish from a yard out clipped the goalkeeper’s near post.

Another chance went begging for Barca as Ivan Rakitic’s pinpoint delivery to Paulinho couldn’t be headed in by the Brazilian, but they could’ve fallen behind a second time, had Daniel Wass cut Pione Sisto’s angled ball back to Maxi instead of blazing over.

Nonetheless, Messi’s through ball found an unmarked Jordi Alba down the far left, and his low cross was blasted in by Suarez.

Unfortunately for the Catalans, the match opened up more than they’d have liked, and not long after Ruben had pushed away Messi’s header, Aspas left Samuel Umtiti for dead down the far right, before cutting back for Maxi, amidst speculation of a big-money move to China.

Umtiti had to be brought off as he pulled up when the forward sprinted past him, and insult was added to potential injury, when Gerard Pique slammed a close-range finish on to Ruben’s near post.

Former Fulham midfielder Jozabed Sanchez was lucky to avoid a straight red card as he stamped on Denis Suarez’s calf from behind and only saw yellow, becoming one of six Celta players to be booked.

A defensive masterclass almost resulted in victory for Unzue’s men, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen made himself big to block Sisto’s close-range finish right at the death.

Barcelona 2-2 Celta Vigo

Messi 22, Suarez 62 (B) Aspas 20, Maxi 70 (CV)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti (Vermaelen 72), Alba; Rakitic (Alcacer 79), Busquets, Paulinho, Iniesta (Denis 53); Messi, Suarez

Celta Vigo: Ruben; Sergi Gomez (Cabral 4), Fontas, Mallo; Wass, Lobotka, Jozabed (Pablo Hernandez 84), Brais (Roncaglia 63), Sisto; Aspas, Maxi

Referee: Melero Lopez