Valencia became only the third Spanish team this season to earn a point off Barcelona with a masterful performance today at the Mestalla. Éver Banega's first half goal was offset by Lionel Messi's penalty strike just a few minutes later as the two sides played to a 1-1 draw.
Banega got things going in the 33rd minute thanks to some good work from Valencia after an initial clearance by Barcelona was intercepted. The ball was moved out right to Tino Costa who made a clever move to get around his defender before sending a speculative cross in towards the center of goal. Gerard Piqué headed the ball down right towards Banega who took one touch and hit a low show through traffic that found its way past Victor Valdés.
It only took six minutes for Barca to respond and pull even. Messi passed the ball in to the box towards Pedro who was barged in to by Valencia defender Joao Pereira. The referee pointed to the spot immediately and it was Messi who took the PK, beating Vicente Guaita with a high hard shot in to the upper left corner of the net.
The goal is Messi's 12th goal in 12 league games and his 33rd this season (he has 42 in all competitions).
Valencia nearly took the full points in the final minutes. Aly Cissokho's initial shot from the left side of the box was blocked by Valdés, but the keeper left a sizable rebound that was pounced on by Roberto Soldado. The striker was likely sure he'd won the match for his side but Valdés was able scramble up from the first save and dive across the path of the shot, blocking it away.
Despite only leaving with a point, Barcelona were able to extend their lead at the top of the league over Real Madrid thanks to their loss against Granada yesterday. Second place Atletico Madrid plays later today.