Barca let two-goal lead slip in draw with Deportivo
BARCELONA: Leaders Barcelona threw a two-goal lead away as late strikes from Lucas Perez and Alex Bergantinos gave Deportivo La Coruna a 2-2 draw in La Liga on Saturday.
A Lionel Messi free kick and a bullet strike from Ivan Rakitic put Barca in control but they eased up in the closing stages and the visitors took advantage.
Messi curled the ball into the top corner of the net from 25 metres to break the resistance of a well-organised Deportivo team after 39 minutes.
Rakitic then fired home from a similar distance in the 62nd minute before in-form Lucas pulled a goal back after 77 and Bergantinos equalised four minutes from time.
It was the second successive draw in the league for Barca who have 35 points from 15 games. Surprise packages Deportivo are sixth on 23.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid, on 32 points, host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday when Real Madrid, third with 30, have a tough match at Villarreal.
"It is difficult to explain," Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta told reporters. "We lost control when we needed to keep it and made it easy for the opposition at 2-0.
"These things happen and we will analyse it and try and make sure it doesn't happen again."
An exquisite chip from Iago Aspas gave fourth-placed Celta Vigo a 1-0 victory over Espanyol.
The former Liverpool forward skipped past Alvaro Gonzalez and lofted the ball over keeper Pau Lopez from 25 metres after 43 minutes.
Celta's Pablo Hernandez was dismissed for a second yellow card after the break but they still went close to scoring with Aspas and Theo Bongonda hitting the woodwork.
Substitute Kevin Gameiro grabbed a double in the final 15 minutes to give Sevilla a 2-0 win over Sporting Gijon.
The game turned following a disputed 74th-minute foul on Fernando Llorente by Luis Hernandez, who was also given a second yellow card, and Gameiro slotted home the penalty.
The Frenchman then headed home a Yevhen Konoplyanka cross after 80 minutes to seal the win.
Two goals by Adalberto Penaranda handed Granada a 2-1 victory at Levante, who replied through Simao Mate, while an injury-time effort from substitute Willian Jose saw Las Palmas beat Real Betis 1-0.
The injured Neymar was missing from Barca's ruthless attacking trio and the door was opened for youngster Sandro Ramirez.
Barca were up against a tactically strong Deportivo, who have one defeat in 12 matches, and their game plan was not to sit too deep but have players ready up front to take advantage of counter-attacks.
Luis Suarez missed a golden chance early on, firing just wide after being set up by a Sandro header and generally Barca had plenty of the ball without finding much space.
Lucas had a shot blocked from close range at the other end before a piece of Messi brilliance gave the hosts the lead.
Barca continued to probe but it took another special effort from Rakitic to breach Deportivo's defence again.
The Catalan side appeared on course for victory but they lost composure at the back as they allowed Lucas in for his 11th league goal of the season.
Bergantinos was then given space to strike the ball past Barca keeper Claudio Bravo late on.