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Barcelona held 1-1 by Cadiz in Lionel Messi’s record 506th league game

Image Source : AP

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, center, controls the ball during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Cadiz at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 21

Cádiz snatched a late penalty to draw 1-1 at Camp Nou and deal Barcelona an unexpected setback in its bid for the Spanish league title on Sunday.

Five days after being beaten 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Ronald Koeman’s side saw two points slip away when substitute Álex Fernández converted an 88th-minute penalty conceded by Clement Lenglet.

Lionel Messi appeared to put Barcelona on its way to an easy win in his club record 506th league appearance in Spain. But after Messi scored from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute, Barcelona was unable to finish off many scoring chances.

The draw leaves Barcelona in third place at eight points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which lost 2-0 to Levante on Saturday. Real Madrid was the biggest beneficiary of the round, moving three points behind Atlético after winning 1-0 at Valladolid also on Saturday. Madrid has played one more match than Atlético and Barcelona.

“These are two hard blows this week,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said after the slip to Cádiz on the heels of enduring a hat trick by PSG star Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 match.

“There is a way to go in the league, but we didn’t count on this. If we can get on a good run of play and get good results, we can still have a shot. It is going to be difficult,¨ Pique said.

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Cádiz, which came up from the second division this season, upset Barcelona 2-1 in early December when Koeman’s side was still finding its way under the new coach. Since then, Barcelona has not lost in the league and arrived at the game on a seven-game winning streak in the league.

Barcelona had 80% of possession and out-shot Cádiz 20-3. But a clumsy foul by Lenglet — when he kicked Rubén Sobrino in the leg while trying to clear a ball on the edge of the area — ruined a strong performance that only lacked a second goal.

“I am very, very disappointed, even more than on Tuesday,” Koeman said. “We were on a good run in the league, and we had a game at home with the chance to cut into the lead of those ahead of us. It is a game that this team, with its talent, has to win.”

Pedri González set up Messi’s goal when he was fouled by Isaac Carcelén. Messi rolled his kick to the left side of the net after goalkeeper Jeremías Ledesma had already given his intentions away.

Cádiz central defender Fali tracked Messi all match long and did well to limit his impact. A timely touch early in the game deflected Messi’s shot wide after Sergio Busquets had played him clear. Ledesma also did well to get low and poke away a pass by Messi that was destined for Antoine Griezmann to push in for a second goal.

It then fell to Fernández, the brother of Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernández, to grab Cádiz´s first point at Camp Nou since 1978.

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¨Today this was all about Cádiz, but if I can help my brother out then it is all the better,¨ Fernández said.

Xavi Hernández had held the mark of 505 league appearances for Barcelona.

ISAK HAT TRICK

Aleksander Isak scored three goals to lead Real Sociedad to a 4-0 rout of Alavés and bounce back from its 4-0 loss to Manchester United in the Europa League.

David Silva assisted on Isak’s second goal and again for Portu to round off the victory with a fourth goal.

Isak leads Sociedad with 12 league goals this season. It was his second career hat trick.

Later Sunday, Villarreal visits Athletic Bilbao while Granada is at Huesca.

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