Barcelona will go into the international break with a three-game winless streak in La Liga thanks to a brutal 3-3 draw away to Celta Vigo at Balaídos. Barça played an amazing first half and went into the break with a three-goal lead, but Celta came roaring back in the final 45 minutes and Iago Aspas once again broke Barça’s hearts with an equalizer in the very last play of the game.
Barcelona were quite simply outstanding in the first 45 minutes, although the first chance of the game fell to Iago Aspas who found himself one-on-one with Marc-André ter Stegen but somehow missed the target completely.
That was Celta’s only chance, which came in the second minute. After that it was all Barça, who were confident and sharp on the ball and moved it with pace all over the pitch. The midfield was especially sharp, with Nico González and Frenkie De Jong constantly moving into space and passing the ball with accuracy while Sergio Busquets controlled the pace and had one of his best halves in recent memory.
There were goals, too. Three of them in fact: first it was Ansu Fati who took on Hugo Mallo and found the bottom corner, then Busquets scored a rare goal with a beautiful strike from just outside the box, and Memphis Depay headed home a perfect cross from Alba to make it three after just 35 minutes.
The only bad news was an injury to Ansu Fati, who felt his hamstring after a sprint and had to be taken off. Other than that it was about as perfect a half as Barça could have asked for, and at halftime they had turned a tough game into a walk in the park.
The second half went the same way as the first, only the two teams switched roles: Celta were the team on the front foot, pressing high and playing attacking football with great intensity while Barça stayed back and struggled to do the basics.
Within the first 30 minutes of the final period, Celta had two goals disallowed, one for offside and another for handball, and also had a strong penalty shout denied by the referee. They also scored two goals: the first came when Ter Stegen couldn’t hold on to a weak shot by Galán and Iago Aspas scored on the rebound, then Busquets lost a ball in his own half and Franco Cervi’s cross found the head of Nolito to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes to go.
Celta looked ready to keep pushing and find the equalizer, but all the energy expended to score the first two goals caught up with the home team and they looked very tired in the dying minutes. Barça finally had some of the ball and created a couple of good chances to score a fourth and kill the game, with Frenkie De Jong coming the closest when he hit the crossbar.
It seemed like Barça had found a way to escape with all three points, but Celta never gave up and were rewarded with a 96th minute equalizer from Iago Aspas, who scored a beautiful goal from just outside the box. The final whistle came, and Barça went from brilliant to awful and dropped two more points.
Good luck, Xavi
Celta Vigo: Dituro; Mallo (Vázuez 46’), Aidoo, Murillo (Araujo 70’), Galán; Tapia (Cervi 65’); Solari (Beltrán 46’), Denis, Nolito; Galhardo, Aspas
Goals: Aspas (52’, 90+6’), Nolito (74’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, García (Araujo 46’), Lenglet, Alba; Nico (Puig 59’), Busquets, De Jong; Gavi (Ez Abde 80’), Memphis, Fati (Balde 46’)
Goals: Fati (5’), Busquets (18’), Memphis (34’)