Reigning Spanish champions Barcelona dropped two more home points in a frustrating 1-1 draw with Real Mallorca at Camp Nou and fell three points behind league leaders Valencia.
Lionel Messi made his first league start since injuring his ankle a fortnight ago and netted his third goal of the campaign on 20 minutes to put Barca ahead. Mallorca's Emilio N'Sue cancelled out Messi's goal three minutes before half-time with an equalizing header.
Two goals in three home matches is a poor return for Barca. The Mallorca draw, coupled with the shock loss to promoted Hercules, means Barcelona have already dropped five points at home this season.
Barca are two points behind second-placed Villarreal, 2-0 winners over Racing Santander on Sunday, and three behind pace-setters Valencia. Barcelona will face Valencia at Camp Nou in their next league match.
Barcelona had to do without playmaker Xavi due to tendinitis and manager Pep Guardiola also decided to rest Spanish internationals Sergi Busquets, Carles Puyol and David Villa. Messi was back in the starting line-up, however, and was his usual menancing self, showing no sign of the ankle injury that sidelined him.
After early chances for Bojan Krkic and Gerard Pique, the hosts went ahead when Pedro Rodriguez's clever flick set up Messi and the Argentine coolly dispatched a curling shot into the bottom-left corner.
Messi, Seydou Keita and Eric Abidal all had sights on goal but Mallorca somehow equalised, with N'Sue heading in a corner. After dominating for 40 minutes Barca had to stomach going in level at the interval.
Mallorca were much improved after the break and could have gone in front on 62 minutes following a rare error from Pique. The centre-back misplaced a pass to gift the ball to Pierre Webo, who thundered a shot at goal, but Victor Valdes was alert, scrambling across goal to palm the effort wide and save Pique's blushes.
Bojan hit the post from an acute angle in the 76th minute and Barca pressed for a winner but Mallorca held firm. It was a first away point for Mallorca and a sweet reward for their coach Michael Laudrup on his return to Camp Nou, where he starred for Barcelona between 1989 and 1994.