Henry rescues Barca at Valencia
Barcelona dropped two vital points in the title race on 25 April in a 2-2 draw at Valencia where substitute Thierry Henry grabbed a late equaliser. It means champions Real Madrid, now seven points behind, can close to within four points with victory at Sevilla today and then try to beat their rivals in next Saturday's 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Dutch midfielder Hedwiges Maduro and winger Pablo Hernandez scored twice in short order to go 2-1 up after Barcelona had taken the lead through Lionel Messi on 24 minutes. Henry scored in the 86th minute to salvage a point for Barcelona who had a 12-point lead over Real back in mid-December, but could find themselves just four ahead by next weekend.
Barcelona face a testing week with Chelsea at Camp Nou on 28 April in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg, before the title duel with Real four days later. The draw kept Valencia in fourth, a point behind third-placed Sevilla.
Messi missed Barcelona's 4-0 midweek defeat of Sevilla, but returned to the starting line-up with Andres Iniesta switching to the left while Henry, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 rout of Valencia back in December, was on the bench. Xavi, Samuel Eto'o, Sergi Busquets and Dani Alves all walked a yellow card tightrope, knowing a booking would rule them out of the upcoming match with Real.
Valencia came out of the blocks at a frenetic pace, putting pressure on the visitors' slick passing game. But with 24 minutes gone, Barcelona got the breakthrough, with Iniesta keeping his composure metres from goal to pick out Messi, rather than trying to squeeze the ball past former Real Madrid goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez. Messi calmly rolled in his 21st goal, but it was Iniesta's composure that secured the goal.
Barcelona had not conceded in the league since 1 March so it was a tall order for Valencia, but the hosts stunned the leaders with two goals in as many minutes. In the 43rd minute, Pep Guardiola's side failed to defend a whipped-in corner with goalkeeper Victor Valdes and Carlos Puyol going for the same ball, leaving Maduro to bundle the ball in with his thigh. It broke Valdes's run of seven consecutive clean sheets and he conceded again 120 seconds later when Hernandez played a neat one-two before slotting home.
Henry came on for Seydou Keita just after the hour and forced a fine save. Sanchez was at fault for the equaliser four minutes from time, however, failing to punch clear and Henry lobbed the ball in.