Valencia (Spain), Oct 8 (IANS) Valencia held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw in the former's Mestalla stadium, a match marked by some sparkling play by the local squad.
Barcelona kept control of the ball throughout most of the match and Valencia played defence, although just 76 seconds into play a corner kick by Dani Parejo was deflected into the goal by Garay after Gerard Pique touched the ball, thus putting the locals on the board first, reports Efe news.
After that momentary distraction, however, Barcelona took iron control of the ball, which it virtually maintained up until the break, with Messi scoring the equalizer in the 23rd minute, knocking in a shot that Neto just couldn't reach on Sunday night.
After Messi's goal, the match largely settled down, with Barcelona playing according to its classic style, not even risking a pass.
Nevertheless, Valencia battled to recover the ball and had two chances to up their tally total, although those efforts came to nought.
The dynamic of the match didn't change one iota in the second half, with Ernesto Valverde's squad keeping hold of the ball and fending off Valencia's steal attempts - for the most part, that is.
But despite its seeming dominance, Barca could not secure the win, and its failure to grab the available three points caused the Catalan squad to slip from first place, supplanted by Sevilla, who had defeated Celta earlier on Sunday.