Sevilla stifle Barça
Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division is down to five points after they were held 1-1 by Sevilla in a thrilling contest at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan.
La Liga's reigning champions extended their unbeaten sequence to 27 matches but this slip-up, combined with Real's victory over Hercules yesterday, has made the title race a little closer.
There were chances for both sides in an entertaining encounter and Barça boss Pep Guardiola will be happy with a point in the end against a dangerous and unpredictable Sevilla side.
Lionel Messi looked to have given Barça the lead when he curled home a free-kick after eight minutes, but the Argentina forward saw his effort ruled out, apparently for a Sergio Busquets foul. Guardiola was forced into an early change as Pedro limped out of the action, with the Tenerife-born forward replaced by Bojan. The young striker was then on the scoresheet following a lovely move.
Andres Iniesta found Dani Alves all alone in the area as he beat the offside trap with a glorious chipped pass and the Brazil full-back squared unselfishly for Bojan to slide the ball into the empty net.
David Villa then came close six minutes before the interval and Messi headed against the crossbar following a brilliant pass from Xavi, in a combination reminiscent of the second Barça goal in the final of the UEFA Champions League against Manchester United in 2009.
Messi then went clean through on goal a minute before the interval, but the Argentinian was upended by Javi Varas, who also touched the ball. Messi looked injured as he walked off at the break, but was back out as the second half got under way.
Sevilla levels with Barça
Barcelona, having dominated virtually the whole first half, found themselves back to square one as Sevilla levelled four minutes into the second period. Alvaro Negredo beat Alves to the ball on the edge of the box, moved diagonally towards the byline, taking Victor Valdes with him, and chipped an exquisite cross back over for Navas, who headed into the empty net.
Negredo then blasted over the bar with only Valdes to beat as Barça looked vulnerable. Fredi Kanoute twice came close later on as Sevilla looked to turn the game completely on its head. Navas missed a wonderful opportunity with 15 minutes left when his side-footed effort was brilliantly saved by the feet of a full-stretch Valdes.
However, Messi came close with an individual effort after beating several Sevilla defenders, while Iniesta stuck a long-range effort against the bar with four minutes left. The visitors almost took all three points in added time, but Gary Medel hacked Iniesta's shot off the line.
Barça now have 75 points, five more than Real Madrid with ten games left, while Sevilla remain in seventh.