As FC Barcelona looked to go 39 straight matches unbeaten in all competitions, they traveled to the Estadio El Madrigal to take on a high-rising Villarreal and they were in for a good treat.
A 2-2 draw ended Barcelona's run of 12 straight wins in the league, but still puts them nine points above Atletico Madrid on the top of La Liga. Goals from Ivan Rakitic and Neymar gave them the 2-0 lead, but it was taken away from them after goals from Cedric Bakambu and an own goal from Jeremy Mathieu to salvage a draw and a point for both teams.
A great start
Things got interesting quickly for the home side when just seconds after the start of the first half, Villarreal hit the post with just 45 seconds gone, almost causing an own goal from Arda Turan. In the fifth minute, Denis Suarez got a chance on goal but it went wide of Claudio Bravo's goal. Two minutes later, the Yellow Submarine's chances continued with Bakambu taking a spin on the ball and an attempt on goal, but his shot was saved by the Chilean goalkeeper.
Barcelona would get their first chance in the 11th minute as Ivan Rakitic steals the ball from the defender as his shot went wide as well of Sergio Asenjo's goal. Finally, it became 1-0 in the 20th minute with a goal from the Croatian midfielder. Following a free kick from Lionel Messi, a bad clearance from Bruno, the ball was played to to Rakitic who didn't miss it as he finished past Asenjo.
The Catalans would get more chances like in the 39th minute, Messi plays the ball to Neymar, Asenjo attacked the ball and brings down the Brazilian and Barcelona is awarded a penalty. Later, his spot kick is made into the back of the net a la Panenka to make it 2-0 right at halftime.
In the second half, Villarreal came into this match after their manager Marcelino was sent off in the first half. Nevertheless, for them, the game was far from over. In the 53rd minute, Villarreal haa chance from a free kick, it was blocked by the Barcelona wall but Manuel Trigueros found a chance onto goal, but it ent wide of Bravo’s goal. Four minutes later, a run from Denis Suarez resulted in a shot being saved by Bravo, but off the deflection from the Chilean goalkeeper, Bakambu came in and scored past him to cut the lead to one.
Then it became 2-2 from a Jeremy Mathieu own goal. In the 62nd minute, following a corner for a Villarreal in which Roberto Soldado's header was deflected in by Jeremy Mathieu, counting it as an own goal and it ended there in Villarreal.
With a point, Barcelona go nine points clear top of the league above Atletico Madrid while Villarreal remain in fourth with 54 points. Following the end of the international break, they will play Real Madrid and Eibar respectively.