» Sports » PHOTOS: Inspirational Messi rescues Barca; Bayern lose

PHOTOS: Inspirational Messi rescues Barca; Bayern lose

February 03, 2019 11:59 IST
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Barcelona are six points ahead of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who visit Real Betis on Sunday, and 11 clear of third-placed Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi

IMAGE: Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the second goal for Barcelona. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Lionel Messi dragged Barcelona back from two goals down by scoring twice to snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in a thrilling encounter on Saturday which interrupted the La Liga leaders’ streak of eight consecutive league wins.


Valencia, who hit the woodwork in the second minute, went ahead in the 24th with a well-taken finish from French forward Kevin Gameiro and doubled their lead with a powerful penalty from Dani Parejo in the 32nd.

Messi halved the deficit seven minutes later by scoring for the ninth consecutive game in all competitions, converting from the spot after having a goal chalked off as the referee had already blown his whistle to award the penalty.

Barca’s insatiable captain equalised in the 64th with an unstoppable curling strike from outside the area, averting a first league loss for the league leaders since November and taking them on to 50 points from 22 games.

Messi had to be treated on the sidelines shortly after scoring his second goal but was able to come back on and finish the game.

IMAGE: Lionel Messi tries to head the ball away from Valencia's Daniel Wass. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Coach Ernesto Valverde said the Argentinian had a light muscle strain, throwing his availability for next Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Real Madrid into doubt.

“We have to wait until he does tests, I don’t know what he has, he is feeling some discomfort; I don’t think he’s very bad but I can’t give any information,” Valverde said.

Valverde’s side are six points ahead of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who visit Real Betis on Sunday, and 11 clear of third-placed Real Madrid, who host Alaves on Sunday.

Both teams had enjoyed remarkable comebacks during the week to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals, with Barca thrashing Sevilla 6-1 to win 8-3 on aggregate and Valencia seeing off Getafe 3-1 for a 3-2 aggregate win with two goals in stoppage time.

Valverde, who had warned of the dangers of exhaustion at this stage of the season, started without Jordi Alba and was missing Sergio Busquets through suspension and Ousmane Dembele through injury.

Valencia, who began the season in the Champions League but have had a haphazard campaign and are seventh in the standings, looked to be on their way to a third league win in six visits to the Nou Camp after making a flying start.

Bayern stunned by Leverkusen's comeback win

IMAGE: The dejected Bayern Munich players after the match. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Bayern Munich suffered a 3-1 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen who powered back from a goal down on Saturday, snapping the champions’ seven-game winning run in the Bundesliga and leaving them seven points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund in third place.

Peter Bosz’s attack-minded Leverkusen scored three goals in the second half as Leon Bailey and Kevin Volland overturned Bayern’s lead, from Leon Goretzka’s 41st-minute goal, while Lucas Alario sealed the win with a late strike.

Bayern dropped to third place on 42 after Borussia Moenchengladbach moved into second place on goal difference following their 2-0 win at Schalke 04. Leaders Dortmund are on 49 after a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt,

The defeat comes as Bayern prepare for a few busy weeks in all competitions, with the German Cup encounter at Hertha Berlin next week and their Champions League Round of 16, two-legged tie with Premier League leaders Liverpool later this month.

“The result does not really reflect the game,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac told reporters. “We played a good first half. We should have scored a second early on as well.

“We knew Leverkusen would step on the gas in the second half and we wanted to be very compact. We did not fully succeed in that.” Germany international Goretzka headed in a Thomas Mueller cross to put Bayern ahead with his fourth goal in the last three league games.

IMAGE: Bayer Leverkusen's Lucas Alario, left, scores their third goal. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

With Kingsley Coman wreaking havoc down the left wing it looked only a matter of time until the champions scored again.

But Bailey fired home a stunning 25-metre free kick eight minutes after the restart to level and Volland completed a stunning break that caught Bayern’s defence napping to secure the lead.

Julian Brandt could have added another goal for the hosts a little later but Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich tipped his volley round the post.

Brandt then set up substitute Alario in the 87th for their third goal with a simple tap-in after another break.

Juventus foiled by Gervinho brace

IMAGE: Gervinho, centre, scores the equaliser for Parma. Photograph: Tullio M Puglia/Getty Images

Parma forward Gervinho scored twice as his team hit back from 3-1 behind on Saturday to draw 3-3 at Serie A leaders Juventus who dropped points for only the third time in the league this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo also scored twice, making him Serie A’s leading scorer with 17 goals, to put Juve in command but a brilliant flicked goal by Gervinho followed by a stoppage-time equaliser meant the Turin side’s lead over Napoli was cut to nine points.

Juventus, chasing an eighth successive Serie A title and still unbeaten, have 60 points from 22 games while Napoli have 51 after their 3-0 win over Sampdoria earlier on Saturday.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was furious about the equaliser when his team lost the ball trying to play their way out of defence.

“The third goal was incredible, we had the ball by the corner flag... and then we played it into the penalty area. You can’t do that in the 95th minute,” he said. “There’s no shame in just kicking the ball into the stands.”

Juve went ahead in the 36th minute when Ronaldo collected Blaise Matuidi’s pass in the penalty area and, although slipping, managed to produce a shot which deflected off a defender and beat Luigi Sepe.

Juventus were awarded a penalty for a foul on Martin Caceres at the end of the first half but the referee revoked it after a reviewing it on the pitchside monitor.

Daniele Rugani put Juventus 2-0 ahead in the 62nd minute after a series of ricochets, Antonino Barilla headed one back two minutes later and Ronaldo restored Juve’s two-goal lead with a towering header in the 66th minute.

Former Arsenal and Roma forward Gervinho reduced the arrears again by turning in Juraj Kucka’s low cross with a clever back-heeled flick at the near post in the 74th minute.

Deep into stoppage time, Juventus failed to clear the ball and Roberto Inglese forced his way to the goal-line and pulled the ball back for Gervinho, who scored with a shot which Mattia Perin got his hand to but could not stop.

“It wasn’t easy to get back into the game from two goals behind,” said Parma coach Roberto D’Aversa, whose side are 12th with 29 points. “But the lads did really well and got their reward.”

Fabregas hands Monaco first win in seven league games

Cesc Fabregas

IMAGE: Cesc Fabregas celebrates after scoring the second goal for Monaco. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Cesc Fabregas netted his first goal with Monaco to give the struggling principality side their first Ligue 1 win in seven games as they beat visiting Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday.

The Spanish midfielder, who joined from Chelsea last month, fired home in the second half to help Monaco move from 19th to 18th in the standings and claim their first victory at home in the league.

They have 18 points from 23 games and are level on points with 17th-placed Caen who have a game in hand.

In coach Leonardo Jardim's second game since he returned to the bench after Thierry Henry was sacked last week, Monaco showed some steel.

"I have congratulated the players for the first three points of this mini-league. Now we have to prepare for the next game," said Jardim.

"The last minutes were difficult. Even if we manage to forget the past, we hadn't won in a long time and it can get a little scary."

Monaco opened the scoring after 15 minutes when Aleksandr Golovin latched on to a Gelson Martins cross, only for Christopher Jullien to level five minutes later from close range.

Fabregas, however, restored the advantage with a right-footed striker from the spot that went under the bar in the 62nd minute.

In Jardim's first game in charge earlier this week, Monaco were knocked out of the League Cup semi-finals by Guingamp on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Olympique de Marseille dropped down to 10th on 31 points after they lost 2-1 at Stade de Reims, with Clinton Njie's last-gasp goal being too little, too late after Tristan Dingome and Suk Hyun-jun had put the hosts in a comfortable position.

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