Iago Aspas starred for Celta Vigo as they twice came from behind to earn a deserved 2-2 draw against 10-man Barcelona at Balaidos on Tuesday night.
Celta Vigo 2 Barcelona 2
Paulinho (25′) heads against post
Dembele (36′) scores fine opener
Castro (45′) slots home from close range
Alcacer (64′) converts on the line
Roberto (71′) sent off for professional foul
Aspas (82′) rescues a point for Celta
The two teams went into the break all-square after Jonny Castro cancelled out Ousmane Dembele’s 36th-minute opener – his first league goal for Ernesto Valverde’s side.
Paco Alcacer restored Barca’s lead midway through the second half, but Aspas bundled in from close range at the death to clinch a share of the spoils.
The visitors bossed possession in the first half, but Celta had the better chances and should have gone into the break ahead.
The game took a while to warm up and Barca went close with their first real clear-cut opportunity on 25 minutes when Paulinho hit the base of the left post with a header.
Juan Carlos Unzue’s men threatened on the counter moments later as Pione Sisto played Brais Mendez in on the right, but his first-time curler from 14 yards out flew narrowly past the left post.
Mendez did manage to hit the target on 34 minutes after being teed up inside the box by Iago Aspas, but his place shot was expertly saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
It proved important as the Blaugrana broke the deadlock two minutes later. Dembele ran onto a ball across the 18-yard area and fired a left-footed shot into the bottom-right corner of the net, giving Sergio Alvarez no chance.
Their lead lasted just 10 minutes, however, as Celta hit back on the break. Gomez was played in on the right and his low cross was converted at close range by Castro.
The hosts made a bright start to the second half and almost went in front on 53 minutes when Aspas released Jozabed, whose curling shot flew just wide of the right post.
Gomez had a rush of blood to the head five minutes later as he fizzed a shot across the face of goal from 18 yards out on the right after being fed by Aspas, and Sisto drew a comfortable save out of Ter Stegen with a strike from outside the area on 59 minutes.
After Dembele tested Alvarez from long range on 61 minutes, the Frenchman turned provider three minutes later with a low cross from the right that was converted on the line by Alcacer, after the Celta keeper got something on Paulinho’s initial shot.
Aspas was a whisker away from restoring parity on 66 minutes with a drilled effort from 20 yards out that zipped past the right post.
Barca then suffered a setback five minutes later when substitute Sergi Roberto was sent off for a professional foul on Aspas, who was sent clean through on goal by Castro, but was hauled back just outside the box. The Spanish forward took the free-kick himself and just cleared the crossbar.
Celta piled on the pressure in the closing stages and Sisto lashed a shot well wide of the near post on 77 minutes after advancing into the area on the left, before substitute Emre Mor hit the side-netting from Aspas’ clever reverse pass in the 80th minute.
Aspas was heavily involved again moments later as he set up Nemanja Radoja, whose attempt from outside the box went straight to Ter Stegen, but the Celta ace finally struck eight minutes from time.
Ter Stegen could only parry Mor’s low cross from the left against Aspas and the ball rolled across the line.
Lucas Boye squandered the chance to clinch victory in the final minute when he was played through on goal by Aspas, but Ter Stegen denied him at point-blank range after the substitute cut back on his right foot.