Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez struck late in the game to rescue a point for Barcelona against a relegation-threatened Villarreal outfit on Tuesday night.
Barcelona came back from two goals down, after having conceded a two-goal lead, to hold Villarreal to a 4-4 draw and salvage a point at Estadio de la Ceramica in the midweek La Liga fixture.
In what was a highly-entertaining clash, the reigning champions were off the blocks quickly as Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring just 12 minutes into the game, as he diverted Malcom’s low cross into the net. Minutes later, Malcom went on to score his first La Liga goal with a clever back-post header to make it 2-0 for Barcelona.
Villarreal struck back halfway through the first-half, with Samuel Chukwueze tapping home after his first attempt had bounced back off the post. Karl Toko Ekambi brought the Yellow Submarine back on level terms five minutes after the break, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen from a difficult angle.
Goals from Vicente Iborra and substitute Carlos Bacca completed the turnaround for the home team, who looked set to bring Barcelona’s unbeaten run in the league to an end. But an 86th minute sending off of Alvaro Gonzalez flicked a switch on in the Catalan camp as Lionel Messi, who had come on as a substitute, dispatched a brilliant free-kick in the 90th minute to make it 4-3.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 2, 2019
Deep into the added time, Luis Suarez struck a sweet half-volley to pull Barcelona back on level terms and salvage a point for his team. In what was a nail-biting encounter between two sides at the opposite ends of the table, here is how Ernesto Valverde’s charges fared on the night;
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
The German shot-stopper was caught out by Toko Ekambi’s strike, but made three brilliant saves in the first period and one more after the break to keep Barcelona in the game. No chance for the other three goals.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
The Barcelona defender that was least at blame for the mauling received at the hands of the hosts, mostly because much of Villarreal’s threat came from the opposite flank. Involved in the lead-up to Barca’s first goal, worked hard in both facets of his game.
Samuel Umtiti: 3/10
Handed a start in place of Gerard Pique, the Frenchman endured a torrid night against the Yellow Submarine. Constantly caught out of position, struggled to keep up the pace with the Villarreal forwards, although playing him as the right-sided centre-back didn’t help matters. Was beaten easily by Bacca for the fourth goal. The after-effects of the knee injury can clearly be seen.
Clement Lenglet: 4/10
A far cry from his recent solid performances. The Frenchman looked all over the places without the assuring presence of Gerard Pique alongside him. Found it extremely difficult to deal with the pace and directness of the teenager Chukwueze.
Jordi Alba: 4/10
Another player who struggled to keep the lid on the talented Chukwueze. The Spanish full-back was beaten in the lead-up to the first goal, while he was also guilty of playing Iborra on side for the third. Could not make the usual impact going forward either.
Arturo Vidal: 5.5/10
Coming into the lineup in place of Ivan Rakitic, the Chilean failed to plug the gaps in the middle, but battled hard. Played a fine cross to set Malcom up for the second, but booking means he is ruled out for the weekend clash against Atletico Madrid.
Sergio Busquets: 4/10
Not the midfield general’s best night. Was wasteful in possession for large parts, caught on the ball more than he would have liked and just didn’t seem to have the legs to go up against the Villarreal midfield.
The Brazilian started off brightly and looked good when Barcelona were on the front foot early on. Struggled as Villarreal took the game to the visitors and faded with time. More is expected of him, especially going forward from the centre of the park.
Handed a rare start in attack, the Brazilian made the most of it. Broke at pace before setting Coutinho up for the opening goal, then got his first goal in the Spanish top-flight, heading in from the back-post. Was a lively presence all through the game and came close to adding to his tally late on as Barcelona pressed in search of a way back.
Luis Suarez: 6.5/10
Had a pretty forgettable night for most parts, until the last kick of the game when he executed a brilliant half-volley from the edge of the box to restore parity and protect Barcelona’s 18-game unbeaten run.
Philippe Coutinho: 6/10
Opened the scoring early in the game and came close to doubling his tally soon after only to be denied by the woodwork. Faded badly from thereon though, as he failed to have any sort of impact in the final third and was whisked off at the hour mark for Messi. Performance left a lot to be desired, despite the goal.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
Replaced Coutinho at the hour-mark. Livened things up in attack and sparked the comeback for Barcelona, with another sensational free-kick. Once again made the difference, highlighting his importance to this team.
Carles Alena: 5/10
Came on for Arthur in the 73rd minute. Made little impact.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
Thrown on for Busquets in the 73rd minute. Although his presence from the start was missed, the Croatian did not make much of a difference in his brief stay on the pitch.