Barcelona dropped points for the third time in their last five LaLiga games as they drew 1-1 at struggling Las Palmas.
Ernesto Valverde’s team remain unbeaten in their domestic division but now own just a five-point advantage ahead of hosting second-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
They went ahead through Lionel Messi’s free-kick yet a controversially-awarded penalty, either for Sergi Roberto’s tug on Matias Aguirregaray or a Lucas Digne handball, was converted by Jonathan Calleri as Las Palmas claimed a point against Barca for the first time since 2002.
Calleri was coolness personified when converting his penalty in the second half. Yet it was his industry and defensive work that caught the eye as he frequently made interventions deep in his own half.
Referee Antonio Mateu was in the spotlight for two huge moments. Firstly, he adjudged Leandro Chichizola had not deliberately handled outside the box, when replays showed a clear movement down towards the ball. Then he seemingly thought Lucas Digne was guilty of that very offence when the ball grazed the underside of his arm after coming back of a post. If that was indeed the offence punished, the replays again did Mateu no favours – though the contact with Aguirregaray was clearer.
The penalty was the first conceded by Barca in two years, and 79 games. It was also the first time since 2002 that Las Palmas had taken a point off Barcelona in LaLiga, and a landmark appearance for Ivan Rakitic.
Las Palmas: Leandro Chichizola 7, Matias Aguirregaray 8, Ximo Navarro 7, Alejandro Galvez 8, Dani Castellano 7, Vicente Gomez 7, Peter Etebo 8, Alen Halilovic 7, Tana 7, Jairo Samperio 7, Jonathan Calleri 8. Substitutes: Alberto Aquilani (on for Vicente, 70) 6, Michel Macedo (on for Castellano, 76) 6, David Garcia (on for Jairo, 86) 6.
Barcelona: Marc Andre ter-Stegen 6, Sergi Roberto 5, Samuel Umtiti 6, Thomas Vermaelen 7, Lucas Digne 5, Aleix Vidal 6, Paulinho 5, Sergio Busquets 6, Andres Iniesta 6, Lionel Messi 7, Luis Suarez 6. Substitutes: Philippe Coutinho (on for Vidal, 57) 6, Ivan Rakitic (on for Paulinho, 63) 5, Ousmane Dembele (on for Iniesta, 75) 6.
Celta Vigo v Las Palmas (LaLiga, March 5)
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid (LaLiga, March 4)