herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Messi fails to give Barca edge

LIONEL MESSI had a penalty saved as Barcelona drew 1-1 at Valencia in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the Mestalla.

The Argentinian wasted the chance to put the visitors in front after Carlos Puyol had cancelled out Jonas' opener for the hosts.

The visitors rode their luck in the first half, though, and might have had goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto sent off inside 20 minutes when a clear handball outside the area went unspotted by the officials.

Barca went into the game on the back of a goalless draw with Villarreal which dropped them seven points behind Real Madrid in the race for the Primera Division title, and struggled early on.

Valencia went ahead in the 27th minute when Jeremy Mathieu pulled the ball back for Jonas to sidefoot into the top corner.

But Puyol headed Barcelona level in the 35th minute, before Messi saw his penalty saved in the 56th minute. The Catalans dominated the second half, but they could not find a winner.

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