Barcelona’s 17-game, five-month long unbeaten streak in La Liga was 13 minutes away from ending when Villarreal led 4-2 in the 80th minute, but the defending champions somehow found a way to come back and earn an unbelievable point on a wild 4-4 draw. Barça’s defense had their worst night in a long, long time, but Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez stepped up late and saved the rest of the team to give Barça en eight-point lead at the top of the table before the giant game against Atlético Madrid at the weekend.
The first 25 minutes were absolutely insane: Villarreal had two giant chances that required a couple of amazing saves from Marc-André ter Stegen, Barça had two giant chances and scored two goals, immediately missed two huge opportunities to make it 4-0 and saw Villarreal hit the post and score a goal. After all the madness, Philippe Coutinho, Malcom and Samuel Chukwueze found the back of the net and the score was 2-1 for Barça, and we had no idea what would happen next.
The pace of the game eventually slowed down as the teams tried to stop each other more, which led to a more physical game and a lot of fouls and yellow cards from both sides. Ter Stegen and Sergio Asenjo each had to make one big save for their team before the end of the half, but no more goals were scored.
At halftime, Barça had the lead in a truly wild game, and their 2-1 lead wasn’t safe at all.
The second half started in the worst possible way for Barça when Toko Ekambi surprised Ter Stegen with a shot instead of a cross on the baseline, and the Yellow Submarine equalized with the entire final period still to play. Ernesto Valverde had Lionel Messi on the bench, and the brought the captain on with 30 minutes left to break the tie and lead Barça to a win. Unfortunately the tie was broken by the other team before Messi could do anything: Vicente Iborra found himself through on goal and put Villarreal ahead.
The stage was set for the final half-hour: Barça would have the ball, Villarreal would try to kill the game on the counter. The home team had a few really good chances, and Ter Stegen needed to make a couple of big saves to keep his team alive, and Barça were starting to run out of time. To make things worse, Santi Cazorla put Carlos Bacca through on goal, and the Colombia rounded Ter Stegen to score Villarreal’s fourth and kill the game.
Things got somewhat interesting when Álvaro González was sent off for a second yellow card, and Lionel Messi scored a ridiculous free-kick in the 90th minute to give Barça some kind of hope, but it was just too late. Except it wasn’t, because in the very last play of the game, after a corner kick from Messi found Luis Suárez at the edge of the box, the Uruguayan scored a spectacular, left-footed, first-time shot that flew past Asenjo and found the back of the net.
The final whistle came in the middle of Barça’s celebration, and this one point feels like a lot more.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets (Rakitic), Arthur (Aleñá); Malcom, Suárez, Coutinho (Messi)
Goals: Coutinho (12’), Malcom (16’), Messi (90’), Suárez (90’+3)
Villarreal: Asenjo; Álvaro, Funes Mori, Ruiz; Mario, Iborra, Morlanes (Cáseres), Cazorla, Pedraza; Chukwueze (Bonera), Ekambi (Bacca)
Goals: Chukwueze (23’), Ekambi (50’), Iborra (62’), Bacca (80’)