Barcelona held by Espanyol in thrilling Catalan derby draw

Barcelona have kicked off 2020 with an entertaining 2-2 draw in the Catalan derby away at Espanyol.

Ernesto Valverde's side end the first weekend of the New Year once again level on points with their arch rivals Real Madrid, but edging Zinedine Zidane's side out at the top of the table on goal difference.

Valverde opted to include his star attackers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez from the start, despite the pair only returning from holiday less than 48 hours prior to the game.

But despite the superstar names on the visitors team sheet, it was Abelardo Fernandez's side that took the lead on 23 minutes, as Lluis Lopez nodded home Marc Roca's free kick.

Barcelona struggled to create chances in the first half, and they were gifted an opener six minutes after the restart at the RCDE Stadium, as Jordi Alba's low cross was not cleared, allowing Suarez to tap home from close range.

And Suarez showed his razor sharp instincts again the hour mark, as he collected a loose ball inside the box, and crossed for substitute Arturo Vidal to flick home a header.

Barcelona went through the gears from there, with Diego Lopez saving from both Suarez and Messi, before Frenkie De Jong was sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages.

The red card changed the balance of the tie, as Espanyol sensed a chance for a late equaliser, and Chinese international Wu Lei cushioned home Mathias Vargas' pass for a deserved point in Abelardo's first game in charge. 

Tags Arturo Vidal Frenkie de Jong Lluis Lopez Luis Suarez Wu Lei