Las Palmas 1 Barcelona 1: Calleri penalty cancels out Messi opener
Leaders Barcelona opened the door for Atletico Madrid in the LaLiga title race as they were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw away at relegation-threatened Las Palmas.
After Antoine Griezmann inspired Atletico to a 4-0 win on Wednesday, Ernesto Valverde's side knew a win would restore their seven-point cushion before they face their nearest rivals at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Lionel Messi thundered in a 21st-minute free-kick to put Barcelona in front and, in the process, score for the first time at the Estadio Gran Canaria.
However, the struggling hosts were gifted the chance to equalise straight after the break, Jonathan Calleri confidently converting a penalty after Matias Aguirregaray had seemingly been fouled at a corner, and Barca could not find a way to restore their lead against a resolute home side.
While the draw sees Barca extend their unbeaten league record, they are now just five points clear of Atletico in second.
And it is now only three wins in their last seven outings in all competitions for the Catalans, a run that will concern Valverde ahead of a critical run of fixtures, with the visit of Atletico coming just 10 days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.
4 - Leo Messi is the player who has scored the most free kick goals this season (four, one more than Neymar and Fekir). Unique pic.twitter.com/fiO3c6w7kt-- OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 1, 2018
After Atletico's one-man demolition job on Leganes 24 hours earlier, a much-changed Barca knew the pressure was on to respond before they face Diego Simeone's in-form side.
Luis Suarez - risked from the start despite being just one yellow card away from a suspension - was unable to give his side an early lead as the visitors butchered a two-on-one opportunity.
Messi stole possession and appeared certain to set up the opener, only to delay squaring the ball to his unmarked team-mate.
Leandro Chichizola capitalised on the delayed pass to bravely Suarez's block the eventual effort, though there was little Las Palmas' goalkeeper could do about Barcelona's opener midway through the half.
Having gone over the wall with an earlier set-piece strike, Messi opted for power over precision with his second free-kick. Chichizola had a clear view of the attempt, yet still could not prevent it flashing into the top right corner of his goal.
The hosts saw their keeper escape punishment when, having charged out of his penalty area to clear, the ball struck his outstretched hand, referee Antonio Mateu judging there was no intent despite the clear deflection denying Suarez the chance to shoot into an unguarded net from a tight angle.
79- Barcelona have conceded a penalty in La Liga 79 games after (since February 2016 against Celta). News pic.twitter.com/5oVAWenFRn-- OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 1, 2018
The official was again required to make a big call immediately after the break, spotting an infringement as Aguirregaray attempted to head home at the near post.
Calleri successfully converted from the spot, firing in his seventh goal of the season to draw Las Palmas level and force Valverde to send for his big guns from the bench.
Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Raikitic and Ousmane Dembele all came on, yet Barcelona struggled to find a way to get beyond a determined home team that saw all four members of their starting defence pick up bookings.
Aguirregaray summed up the home side's brave display when he produced a desperate tackle from behind on Messi, securing Las Palmas a point that will also be celebrated in the Spanish capital.