Barcelona grab late equaliser in draw at Rayo Vallecano
Florian Lejeune’s late own goal rescued a point for Xavi’s side.
Barcelona snatched a late equaliser as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano.
Florian Lejeune’s late own goal rescued a point for Xavi’s side but their slip-up opened the door for Real Madrid and surprise leaders Girona to extend their advantage in the title race.
Vallecano made most of the running in the first period and got their reward with a stunning Unai Lopez volley in the 39th minute.
Barcelona went in search of an equaliser in the second period as chances from Pedri, Ferran Torres and Joao Cancelo all went begging but Lejeune’s 82nd-minute own goal gave the Catalan giants a reprieve.
Vallecano made a bright start and had the first chance of the game but Isi Palazon’s effort from outside the area flew over the crossbar.
Palazon proved to be a menace and tried his luck again a couple of minutes later but his drilled effort was parried by Inaki Pena before the goalkeeper grabbed at the second attempt.
Barcelona failed to make an impression in the opening stages but had their first shot on target in the 28th minute when Lamine Yamal rode the challenge of three defenders into the area before smashing straight into the hands of Stole Dimitrievski.
Vallecano were straight back on the front foot and threatened to break the deadlock but Lopez’s goalbound effort was blocked by Andreas Christensen.
The home side’s deserved lead came in the 38th minute in superb fashion as Oscar Trejo’s initial effort was blocked out to Lopez, who smashed in on the volley from distance past the diving Pena.
Vallecano were inches away from doubling their advantage as Jorge De Frutos fizzed a ball into the six-yard box, which needed to be cleared by Alejandro Balde to keep the deficit to just one at the break.
Barcelona started the second half with much more intent than the first and came close to levelling things up but Cancelo’s curling effort from outside the area lifted just over the bar.
Chances began to come freely for the away side as Oriol Romeu’s cross found Ferran Torres free in space but his effort went straight to Dimitrievski.
Two minutes later another glorious opportunity came and went when Robert Lewandowski’s cross found Pedri in the six-yard area but he nodded over with the goal at his mercy.
With 15 minutes to go, the Barcelona pressure was now relentless and they were denied an equaliser by the woodwork when Raphinha’s shot from range crashed off the post.
But Barcelona had their equaliser in the 82nd minute as Lewandowski sent a ball across the box and Lejeune stuck a foot out but could only turn into his own goal.