Barcelona overcome Messi ‘ghost goal’ to draw at title rivals Valencia

Lionel Messi had a legitimate goal controversially denied as LaLiga leaders Barcelona hit back to snatch a 1-1 draw at second-placed Valencia.

Messi’s tame first-half strike squirmed through the grasp of Valencia goalkeeper Neto and over the line at Mestalla but it was not spotted by the officials and, with the absence of goal-line technology in Spain, play was allowed to continue.

In-form Valencia took advantage of their fortune when Rodrigo slotted them into a 60th-minute lead but Jordi Alba equalised against his former club with a late volley to keep Barca four points ahead of their rivals.

What they said

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba told Spanish newspaper Marca: “It was a mistake by the referee. Even from the middle of the pitch I could see it. At the break we saw the replay and it is clear, these plays can’t be missed.”

Valencia assistant coach Ruben Uria told valenciacf.com: “The season that comes with the VAR (video assistant referees) is going to be fixed, we are in favour of the technologies.”

Tweet of the match

Star man – Messi

It was far from vintage Messi but he shrugged off the disappointment of being denied his 17th Barca goal of the season by producing a sublime assist for Alba’s equaliser which maintained Barca’s unbeaten record and, more importantly, prevented Valencia closing the gap at the top to a single point.

Moment of the match

Although Alba’s volley was sublime, the major talking point was undoubtedly the decision not to award Messi’s first-half strike. The Argentinian probably did not expect to score with the seemingly harmless effort but Neto made a mess of the save and the ball went over the line, reigniting the debate for goal-line technology in LaLiga.

Stat attack

Barcelona’s late leveller denied Valencia a first home league win over their opponents for more than a decade. Los Che’s previous LaLiga victory against the Catalan club at Mestalla came in February 2007 when Miguel Angel Angulo and David Silva were on target, prior to Ronaldinho’s late consolation.

Player ratings

Valencia: Neto 5 (out of 10), Jose Luis Gaya 7, Gabriel 6, Ezequiel Garay 6, Martín Montoya 6, Goncalo Guedes 7, Carlos Soler 6, Daniel Parejo 6, Geoffrey Kondogbia 6, Simone Zaza 6, Rodrigo 7. Subs: Andreas Pereira (on for Rodrigo, 82) 5, Ruben Vezo (for Garay, 86) 5, Santi Mina (for Soler, 89) 5.

Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6, Nelson Semedo 6, Thomas Vermaelen 5, Samuel Umtiti 6, Jordi Alba 7, Sergio Busquets 6, Ivan Rakitic 5, Andres Iniesta 7, Paulinho 6, Lionel Messi 8, Luis Suarez 6. Subs: Gerard Deulofeu (for Rakitic, 68) 5, Denis Suarez (for Iniesta, 72) 6, Aleix Vidal (for Semedo, 80) 5.

Who’s up next?

Valencia v Real Zaragoza (Copa del Rey, November 30)

Barcelona v Murcia (Copa del Rey, November 29)

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