Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Barcelona against Valencia on Saturday. Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP

BARCELONA – Lionel Messi dragged Barcelona back from two goals down by scoring twice to snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in a thrilling encounter on Saturday, which interrupted the La Liga leaders’ streak of eight consecutive league wins.

Valencia, who hit the woodwork in the second minute, went ahead in the 24th minute with a well-taken finish from French forward Kevin Gameiro, and doubled their lead with a powerful penalty from Dani Parejo in the 32nd minute.

Messi halved the deficit seven minutes later by scoring for the ninth consecutive game in all competitions, converting from the spot after having a goal chalked off as the referee had already blown his whistle to award the penalty.

Barca’s insatiable captain equalised in the 64th minute with an unstoppable curling strike from outside the area, averting a first league loss for the league leaders since November, and taking them on to 50 points from 22 games.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are six points ahead of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who visit Real Betis on Sunday, and 11 clear of third-placed Real Madrid, who host Alaves on Sunday.

Reuters