first_imgLa Liga champions Barcelona lost their lead at the top of the table after being held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia in an entertaining match on Sunday.The draw stretched Barca’s winless run in Spain’s top flight to four games and saw them surrender first place to Sevilla in a highly competitive campaign in which the leading six teams are separated by only two points.The Catalans fell behind as early the second minute at the Mestalla stadium after some dreadful defending from a corner allowed Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay to put the ball at the back of the net from close range.Barcelona continued to squander chances but finally got level thanks to a fantastic strike in the 23rd minute from Lionel Messi, who has been in top form recently.Amazing atmosphereFanciful footballMessi magic#ValenciaBarça had a bit of everything! pic.twitter.com/ok8mynL5SBLaLiga (@LaLigaEN) October 7, 2018Barcelona failed to further breach well-organised Valencia, however, racking up a run of three draws and a defeat in four league games, their longest stretch without a win since 2016.Sevilla are top on 16 points while Barca have 15 like Atletico Madrid but are second due to a better goal difference.”This season it feels like we have to come back in every game and we are swimming against the current but we know that this is going to change,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.”You always want to win and when you don’t you leave with the sensation that you have dropped two points but you have to recognise that Valencia did a very good job defensively.”advertisementBarcelona had responded to disappointing domestic results against Athletic Bilbao, Leganes and Girona with a commanding 4-2 victory over Spurs at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday but they were instantly back on the rocks when Garay struck.LITTLE RESISTANCEValencia continued to pile forward with little resistance after scoring and carved out three clear chances to double the lead but Michy Batshuayi was twice foiled by Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Geoffrey Kondogbia fired wide.The Catalans soon got their house in order to establish control and there was an air of inevitability about their equaliser when it arrived, Messi playing a one-two with Luis Suarez before firing first time into the bottom corner.Valencia, who have picked up one victory in 10 games in all competitions, continued to look dangerous on the break and substitute Denis Cheryshev flashed shots narrowly off target either side of halftime.pic.twitter.com/wBWXvjbLdnValencia CF English (@valenciacf_en) October 7, 2018There was a cagey feel to much of the second half, with both sides quickly smothering danger when it appeared.In one instance, Barca’s Philippe Coutinho took too long to shoot inside the area, while in another Messi crept into the area down the left but dragged his shot wide of the near post.Valencia coach Marcelino was not satisfied with a draw.”A point tastes like very little to me, Barcelona needed very little to score, aside from their goal I can barely remember another chance,” he said. “We were very dangerous at the start, and logically we should have been 2-0 up.”Just 6 points separate 1st and 12th place in #LaLigaSantander…The table hasn’t been this close in 17 years! pic.twitter.com/7OCieqVV5fLaLiga (@LaLigaEN) October 7, 2018(With inputs from Reuters)last_img

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