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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Football

Messi gives Barcelona 1-1 draw at Valencia
AP
Barcelona, February 04, 2013
First Published: 10:29 IST(4/2/2013)
Last Updated: 10:33 IST(4/2/2013)

Lionel Messi extended his record streak by scoring in his 12th consecutive Spanish league game to give leader Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Valencia, while Atletico Madrid remained perfect at home through 20 games in all competitions.

 

Midfielder Ever Banega struck first for Valencia in the 33rd, only for Messi to level for the visitors from the penalty spot six minutes later.

Former Valencia star David Villa had Barcelona's best chance late but failed to finish on the break before goalkeeper Victor Valdes made an excellent save to deny Roberto Soldado two minutes from time and ensure a point for each side.

It was Barcelona's second draw in five days after being held 1-1 by archrival Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. But it still boasts a league record of 19 wins, two draws and one loss and leads Madrid by 16 points after the defending champions' 1-0 loss at Granada on Saturday from Cristiano Ronaldo's first career own goal.

"We never take the league title for granted, there is still a long way to go," said defender Jordi Alba in his first trip back to Valencia since joining Barcelona last offseason. "Today we played against a great team." 

Second-place Atletico cut into Barcelona's hefty lead by beating Real Betis 1-0 to reduce the gap with the pacesetters to nine points.

Radamel Falcao returned for Atletico after a two-week injury layoff, but it took forward Diego Costa coming off the bench in the 56th to head home the winner five minutes later.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Malaga was held to a 1-1 home draw by Real Zaragoza in the return of forward Julio Baptista after a 16-month layoff with a broken right foot, while Sevilla beat visiting Rayo Vallecano 2-1 as it continued to show improvement under new coach Unai Emery.

Real Sociedad rolled to a 3-0 victory over 10-man Mallorca, with Scotland defender Alan Hutton debuting for the losers after arriving on loan from Aston Villa during the winter transfer market.


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