Lionel Messi

Barcelona drop points by drawing at Villarreal

Following the Premier League defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now has eight days to prepare his Manchester United side for the visit of Barcelona to Old Trafford.

Both clubs suffered domestic setbacks on Tuesday evening, after a pair of surprising results.

The Reds were beaten 2-1 at Molineux Stadium, where Scott McTominay broke the deadlock before a Diogo Jota equaliser and Chris Smalling own goal gave the home side three Premier League points. 

Meanwhile, in Spain’s La Liga, runaway leaders Barcelona travelled to Villarreal and recorded an unexpected 4-4 draw against the Yellow Submarine, who are still fighting to avoid relegation. 
Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique laughing while sitting on the bench for Barcelona.
Lionel Messi was named on the bench with Gerard Pique, but was eventually needed to play.
Barcelona, who had Lionel Messi resting on the bench, took the lead early on with a close-range finish from Philippe Coutinho. Malcom - who assisted the first goal - doubled the visitors' advantage four minutes later.

Spain's reigning champions were in total control at this point and Coutinho nearly doubled his tally when he hit the post, after receiving a delightful pass from Luis Suarez. However, the momentum changed dramatically on the 23-minute mark, when Samuel Chukwueze found the back of the net for the hosts.

Just before half-time, Suarez came close to making it 3-1 when his shot from outside the box nearly found its way into the bottom right left corner, only for Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to produce a top-quality save to deny him.

Villarreal were buoyed by their late rally in the first half, and emerged after the break full of confidence. They soon managed to level the scoreline at 2-2 through Karl Toko Ekambi, who squeezed the ball into the Barcelona net from a tight angle.

With Barça fearful of dropping points, they introduced Messi from the bench. The Argentinian was initially a doubt for the game after it was revealed last week he has been playing through a long-term injury in recent weeks.

Despite the visiting superstar's entrance, it was Villarreal who netted the next goal, through Vicente Iborra just after the hour mark, to go in front at 3-2. Even better was to come - when former Arsenal man Santi Cazorla put Carlos Bacca through 10 minutes from time, the Colombian drove the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to the delight of most fans inside the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Villarreal looked to be on course for a famous 4-2 win against Barcelona, but with Messi around nothing is ever safe. When he was fouled just outside the area, the forward curled in a wonderful free kick, reducing the hosts' advantage to 4-3.

Barcelona continued their push for a fourth goal as the game went on into injury time and left-back Jordi Alba had a shot saved. 

The home side conceded an even later corner, and in the dying seconds of the game, Suarez managed to score with a shot from outside the box, remarkably making the final score 4-4.

The agonising draw for Villarreal leaves them in 17th place, while Barcelona go into their weekend game with Atletico Madrid eight points clear at the top.

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