After a lively start from both sides, Barcelona took the lead on 12 minutes, as Malcom’s low cross was converted by Philippe Coutinho from close range, before the former Bordeaux man gave Barça a two-goal lead four minutes later with a back-post header for his first La Liga goal.
Coutinho almost made it 3-0 inside 20 minutes when his chipped finish struck the post, although it was relegation-threatened Villarreal who scored the third goal of the contest through Samuel Chukwueze midway through the half, who finished at the second attempt after his first effort hit the woodwork to give the host hope heading into the second period.
The home side’s hopes would be realised just five minutes after the restart through Karl Toko Ekambi, as his cross beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen from an improbable angle to level proceedings,
Carlos Bacca appeared to have wrapped up the game ten minutes from full-time with a composed finish after rounding Ter Stegen – who finished the game with ten men after Alvaro Gonzalez saw red late on for two bookable offences. However, Lionel Messi’s stunning free-kick on the 90th minute set up a frantic finale.
With the game appearing to be drifting away for Barcelona, Luis Suarez netted for the visitors deep into added time with a beautifully struck half-volley from the edge of the area to rescue a point for the La Liga leaders and spare their blushes.
Here’s our breakdown of this one.
Starting XI: ?Asenjo (7); Alvaro (5), Funes Mori (5), Ruiz (6); Mario Gaspar (6), Morlanes (7), Cazorla (8), Pedraza Sag (8); Chukwueze (9*), Iborra (7); Ekambi (8).
Substitutes: Caseres (6), Bacca (7), Bonera (N/A).
Key Talking Point?
Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique were all named on the bench ahead of huge games against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United, giving squad players a chance to shine against a relegation-threatened Villarreal, although it looked to be a torrid night for Barcelona at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Despite going into a two-goal lead after 16 minutes – which could’ve been three had Coutinho’s chip gone in off the post just shy of 20 minutes – Barca had Ter Stegen to thank for conceding just one in the first period, with the German making three vital stops.
Amazing comeback from FC Barcelona Messi and Suarez in the last minutes
— Mohamed Ali (@MohdAliYusf) April 2, 2019
What a game I saw just now between Villarreal and Barcelona. Barca led 2-0 but then give up 4 straight goals to put themselves in danger of an upset from the possibly relegated team. But thanks to two miracle goals from Messi and Suarez, they draw in the end. #LaLiga
— Ryan ? (@pradiggitydog) April 2, 2019
The metaphorical wheels however fell off for the La Liga leader just 17 minutes after half-time, as mistakes in the Barca defence, especially Ter Stegen for the third goal, saw the game turn on its head, with the visitors looking all at sea by the time Bacca netted a fourth for the hosts not long after Ter Stegen made another fine stop to deny Chukwueze.
Barca however got out of jail thanks to the talent at their disposal, first through another Messi free-kick, while a venomous strike from Suarez late on extended their unbeaten league run to 18 games as they most certainly got away with one.
Crazy game and messi was a sub but what a free kick – poor Cazola had fantastic game – Barcelona defenders all over the place
— Griffiths (@djnobbles) April 2, 2019
Starting XI: ter Stegen (7); Roberto (6), Umtiti (5), Lenglet (5), Alba (5); Vidal (6), Busquets (6), Arthur (5); Malcom (7), Suarez (7), Coutinho (7).
Substitutes: Messi (7), Alena (6), Rakitic (6).
Malcom was Barcelona’s deadliest player in the first half, with him providing an assist as well as his first La Liga goal for the club, with the pace and runs off the ball causing real problems for Villarreal, although his influenced lessened as Barca stuttered through the remainder of the game.
Villarreal will be looking to bonce back when they face Real Betis this weekend, before hosting fellow La Liga side Valencia in the first-leg of their Europa League quarter-final in midweek.
Barcelona meanwhile face title-challengers Atletico Madrid this weekend as they look to extend their eight-point lead over Los Rojiblancos, before facing United in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final.