Thank the Lord for David Villa and his magical right boot. Had he not scored his lob, not only would the streak of 16 La Liga wins in a row have came to a more humiliating end, but depending on the result of Real's match today, could have left the gap at 4 points come Monday morning.
As it stands though, the streak is still over and Los Merengues could end the weekend 5 points adrift of the Blaugrana. So, the title race is declared right back on just one week after the majority of the football world said it was over.
12-02-2011 - Sporting Gijon 1-1 Barcelona - All Goals (via GoalsarenaUS)
In my preview for the match, I said that the FIFA virus could affect the team, and it seems like one of the symptoms lethargy was on show for the first goal.
Sporting had defended well up to this point and got the chance to hit Barca on the break with David Barral. Barral continued his run down the line, leaving Pique behind as he did so, before cutting inside the box, where Milito tripped over his own feet leaving Barral opportune time and space to find the corner.
16 minutes in, the Blaugrana were behind, Gijon were not playing to the script.
Barcelona tried to respond through Messi and Iniesta, but every run was stopped, and every pass was intercepted. Whatever Preciado was telling his players to do, it was working.
Then on the 30th minute, Barral had another chance to score, but Pique made a great challenge to deny a shot on goal, or worse.
After the half hour, Barca began to dominate in the manner that we have become accustomed to, and Iniesta had a great chance on 33 minutes to level the scoring, but Pichu was there to deny him again.
At the half, Pedro was introduced for a largely ineffectual Afellay and Pep's men started to turn the possession into chances. Messi had a low drive saved by the faultless Pichu and Xavi had a good chance too.
Then just as you thought it wouldn't be Barca's night, take centre-stage David Villa.
With Bojan about to come on, presumably for Villa himself, he received the pass from Messi, saw Pichu off his line, and calmly lobbed it over him from outside the box. A magnificent goal, testament to the valiant effort Sporting put in.
Barcelona piled forward in the final 15 minutes, but couldn't find the winner, although Pedro came close in the 87th minute. The game ended 1-1, a fair reflection on the effort of both teams