Lionel Messi scored his 450th goal for Barcelona on Sunday night but it was not enough to prevent a third straight La Liga defeat as they lost 2-1 to Valencia at the Camp Nou.
- Barcelona 1 Valencia 2
- Rakitic OG gives Los Che lead
- Mina adds second before HT
- Messi pulls one back for hosts
- Barca suffer third straight defeat
The league leaders had failed to win their last three games and they were trailing after 26 minutes when Ivan Rakitic deflected Guilherme Siqueira’s cross past his own goalkeeper at the near post.
But Los Che managed to take a two-goal lead into the break after Santi Mina beat Claudio Bravo from close range in first-half stoppage time.
Messi halved the deficit just after the hour mark with his first goal in five games to take his career tally to 500, but the visitors held on to record back-to-back wins in the league, allowing Atletico Madrid to close right up on Barca in the process.
Luis Enrique’s side started well enough, with Messi denied at close range by Diego Alves, who also kept Neymar out from the edge of the area, while Luis Suarez failed to hit the target with two early chances.
But the visitors had their chances too, Rodrigo firing just wide from 18 yards out after being set up by Enzo Perez on 17 minutes and they took the lead nine minutes later through a slice of fortune.
Siqueira was released down the left channel on the overlap and his low cross was diverted in at the near post by Rakitic, who tried to cut out the danger on the slide.
The Blaugrana struggled to impose themselves on Los Che for the remainder of the half, although Messi did manage to draw a save out of Alves with a header from 10 yards out six minutes before the break.
But worse was the come for the hosts as they conceded again, with Mina firing a shot across Bravo into the far corner of the net from edge of the six-yard box on the stroke of half-time, having latched onto Dani Parejo’s through-ball.
The Catalan giants didn’t find the going any easier in the second half, although they did manage to pull one back through Messi on 63 minutes.
The Argentine ace reached another monumental landmark as he steered home Jordi Alba’s low cross from 12 yards out to notch up his 500th career goal.
Barca went in search of the equaliser and Rakitic came close to making amends for his earlier mistake when he forced a fine save out of Alves with his strike from inside the area on 74 minutes.
Gerard Pique wasted a gilt-edged chance to draw the league leaders level in the final minute as he blazed wide of the near post from just six yards out.