What a brilliant match at El Madrigal! The equalising freekick from Messi in stoppage time was one of the moments of the season, but Barcelona will reflect on two lost points. Real Madrid now have a five point lead with a game in hand at the top of La Liga. Can that gap be bridged? The Catalans have a lot of work to do.
- 2nd Half
Villarreal CF - FC Barcelona
Liga - 8 January 2017
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- End of 2nd Half
FULL TIME: Villarreal 1-1 Barcelona.
- Red cardJaume CostaVillarreal CF
RED CARD! Jaume Costa (Villarreal). The referee shows Costa a second yellow card. He is furious with the decision, but the home side will play the final few moments with 10 men.
Is there still time for Barcelona, or Villarreal for that matter, to find a winner? You get the feeling that there will be one more big chance for one of these sides. Which way will it fall?
The first half has a bit of a dud, but the second half has more than made up for it. That could turn out to be a huge goal for Barcelona, but now Villarreal are looking for a winner themselves.
Four minutes of stoppage time to be played at the end of the match.
- GoalLionel MessiFC Barcelona
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Villarreal 1 Barcelona 1 (90 mins - Lionel Messi). What a sensational goal and how Barcelona needed that! Messi finds the very top corner of the net with a wonderful freekick from the edge of the box.
Time is running out for Barcelona. They are throwing everyone forward, but that is in turn leaving gaps at the back for Sansone and co. to exploit. A dangerous game they are playing.
Keep in mind that Villarreal have the best defence in the Spanish league. They are not an easy side to break down. They are defending with everything they've got at the moment.
- OffRoberto SorianoVillarreal CF
- OnRodrigo HernándezVillarreal CF
Villarreal make another change and it's Soriano who comes off. He has been excellent for the hosts.
ANOTHER PENALTY SHOUT! Bruno falls on the ball inside the area and.. yup, that probably should have been a spot kick. Clear handball. Villarreal have got away with another one.
- OffAlexandre PatoVillarreal CF
- OnSamu CastillejoVillarreal CF
Villarreal make their first change of the match. They are looking to see this one out against Barcelona.
There will be yet more talk of the referee's performance after this game. Although Barcelona can't complain too much. They should have had a penalty, but they should have conceded one too.
NEYMAR OVER THE BAR! This game has come to life and then some! Messi's shot is saved by Asenjo, Turan heads the ball back into the area, but Neymar sends his overhead kick over.
VILLARREAL PENALTY SHOUT! Now it's the home side who are looking to the referee. They believe Mascherano handled the ball inside the area, and they are right. That was a penalty too.
MESSI HITS THE POST! That's as close as you can come without finding the back of the net. Messi aims a left footed shot towards goal, striking the inside of the woodword.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A PENALTY! Barcelona's players are furious. Messi's shot is actually saved by the arm of Bruno, deflecting it up and over the bar, but the referee failed to spot it.
- OffLucas DigneFC Barcelona
- OnArda TuranFC Barcelona
That's an interesting one. Lucho makes an unexpected change and puts Turan on for Digne. That means a complete change of system. Three at the back.
The freekick delivery from Messi was poor, but Mascherano stooped to get his head to it. But the ball flashes up off the defender's head and over the Villarreal crossbar.
- Yellow cardJaume CostaVillarreal CF
I think they call that 'taking one for the team.' Costa pulled back Suarez as he surged forward on the counter.
Barcelona are committing more and more players forward. Mascherano is taking it upon himself to push forward, but that is leaving space in behind for Pato in particular to exploit.
The criticism of Gomes' performance in the Catalan press tomorrow will be scathing, but he really does offer this Barcelona team very little. Such a strange signing. A misfit in this side.
- OffAndré GomesFC Barcelona
- OnDenis SuárezFC Barcelona
Indeed, here comes the change for Barcelona and it's Gomes who comes off for Denis.
It looks like Lucho is about to make his first change of the night. Surely it will be Gomes that is coming off? Denis is the one on the touchline so that would make sense.
The most surprising thing about this Barcelona performance so far has been the lack of urgency or tempo. They have been so sluggish. Where's the usual zippy passing?
PENALTY SHOUT! Neymar hits the deck inside the penalty area under pressure. He believes he was pushed to the ground, but the referee shakes his head and plays on.
However, there is still certainly plenty time for Barcelona to turn this one around. There's 25 minutes left to play and the players they have on the pitch can make a difference, to put it mildly.
This is perhaps where Real Madrid have the edge on Barcelona with their squad depth. Barcelona just don't have the quality on the bench to change a game like this.
This has been a difficult performance for Iniesta. He's normally the one to set the pace and direction of Barcelona's play, but he has made a lot of misplaced passes tonight.
All of a sudden this has the makings of a really great game. Barcelona are going to have to break down this Villarreal defence. The hosts will be looking for another on the counter.
First, Soriano forces Pique into something of a panicked clearance under pressure. Then Barcelona counter attack themselves, with the hosts scrambling a clearance away with Messi lurking.
It's possible that Pique has picked up something of a knock in the last few minutes. The Barcelona centre back looks to be hobbling slightly and Villarreal seem to have cottoned on to that.
The issue for Lucho is that he doesn't have a great deal of options on the bench. Is he really going to turn to Alcacer to get his side a goal in such a big match? It seems unlikely.
There is a real sense that Neymar has been far too watseful in recent appearances for Barcelona. He certainly isn't in the best of form. Some have called for him to be dropped.
That was a bit of a defensive lapse from Villarreal. They weren't aware to the danger of the quick set piece and were caught out. They won't do that again. They'll be looking for that Barca trick.
NEYMAR PASSES UP A CHANCE! Quick thinking from Messi at a freekick sets Nymar through on goal, but the Brazilian gets his shot all wrong and sends his effort straight at Asenjo.
The finish from Sansone was excellent, but the pass through by Pato was even better. He has posed a danger to Barcelona all night and he got the weight of his ball just right.
This is starting to feel like a real season defining match for Barcelona. A defeat here would give Real Madrid a six point lead with a game in hand. Is that a gap too wide to bridge?
That's the kind of thing I was talking about earlier. Villarreal have quality in attack and they showed that with that goal. They hit out on the counter attack with real pace and made the most of it.
- GoalNicola SansoneVillarreal CF
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Villarreal 1 (49 mins - Nicola Sansone) Barcelona. The home side have the opener! Villarreal counter attack at pace with Pato slotting a perfect pass through to Sansone who finds the bottom corner of the Barca net.
The first half was an excellent defensive performance by Villarreal. They suffocated Barcelona, but for how long can they keep that up? Can they do that for the full 90 minutes?
- 2nd Half
The second half is under way at El Madrigal! It's still goalless between Villarreal and Barcelona.
What did you make of the first half at the El Madrigal? Have Barcelona done enough to be ahead? Does Lucho need to make some changes? Do Villarreal need to be more adventurous? Tweet me!
- End of 1st Half
HALF TIME: Villarreal 0-0 Barcelona. Some may call that opening 45 minutes a 'tactical battle.' Barcelona have seen more of the ball, but Villarreal are putting on a good defensive display.
MESSI HEADER! That was inches away from being the opener for Barcelona. He arrowed a header towards goal from about 10 yards out, but Asenjo managed to tip it over.
It should be noted though that Villarreal are a good side. This is one of the biggest tests Barcelona will face in La Liga this season. The Yellow Submarine are difficult to sink.
However, Barcelona can be vulnerable at the back, as they showed against Athletic Bilbao at the back, and so a 0-0 scoreline won't be pleasing to Lucho ahead of the break.
Having said that, Villarreal have faded as the first half has progressed. They are less of a force going forward now than they were in the opening 20 minutes. Barca in relative control.
Lucho might be tempted to make changes to his side at the half time break. This isn't quite working for Barcelona at the moment. What is Gomes offering to this team?
Neymar took on one too many. He was trying to free up some space on the edge of the box, but his touch eventually took him out of play. His teammates look disgruntled with him.
Barcelona have probably had the better chances of the first half so far, but Villarreal have done a good job to keep them at arm's length for the most part. Good defending.
There is a sense that Barcelona are cranking up the pressure on the home side towards the end of this first half. Villarreal are slipping deeper and deeper, and countering less and less.
Replays show that perhaps Neymar was a little complacent with his finish a few moments ago. He thought he was clean through on goal, only for Bruno to make the late tackle.
BIG CHANCE FOR NEYMAR! Suarez does really well to get to the byline and square for his teammate, but after getting in front of his marker Neymar's finish was poor and blocked.
Digne has proved an effective outlet down the left side for Barcelona so far this evening. His crossing could so with some work, though. This time he doesn't beat the first man.
This game hasn't really come to life yet, but you get the feeling that it could at any moment. Both Villarreal and Barcelona are posing their own threat. The danger is there.
It's quite remarkable how Pato has been rejuvenated since joining Villarreal this season. The Brazilian striker might not be back to his best, but he is at least performing well for his new club.
Pato believes he should have won a corner kick, but the referee decides that Roberto got the clearance away in time to avoid the set piece. Replays show that probably should have been a corner.
That would have been a sensational. The movement and passing from Barcelona was rapid, but in the end the final pass from Neymar out to Suarez was cut out.
The defending from Villarreal has been good so far. Musacchio in particular been solid, and he has had quite a lot to do with Suarez, Neymar and Messi are trying to make something happen.
NOT FAR AWAY! That was inches away from the opener. Neymar saw off the attentions of two defenders before unleashing a strike towards goal. The ball flashes past the far post, though.
It's just not clicking for Barcelona in the final third at the moment. They are doing well to keep possession around the middle of the pitch, but they can't really do much damage there.
This is starting to turn into quite a fiery encounter. Some of the tackles are getting a little tasty now, but for the moment the referee has decided to keep his cards in his pocket.
Suarez pleads his innocence after bringing down Costa. The Villarreal midfielder nutmegged the Barca man and so he retaliated by tripping him. The referee saw it, though.
GOMES LETS RIP! A loose ball falls into the path of Gomes about 25 yards out from goal. The midfielder gets a powerful strike away, but the ball flashes over the crossbar.
This match is starting to settle into something of a rythym now. Barcelona are seeing more of the ball, but it's Villarreal who seem to be posing more of an attacking threat.
Some transfer gossip for you - Rakitic has been left out for Barcelona today and speculation in Spain says that's because the Croatian is on the brink of signing for Man City.
Neymar is finding it difficult to get himself involved in this game. He is attempting to pick a pass, but the Brazilian is lacking a final product at the moment. He's been wasteful so far.
GREAT TACKLE! That was a last ditch intervention. The pass into Dos Santos was a good one, with the Villarreal attacker set to shoot on goal, but Digne made the well timed tackle.
Gomes is in the starting lineup for Barcelona this evening. The Portuguese midfielder hasn't really imposed himself at his new club since making the move from Valencia in the summer.
That last chance illustrated how Villarreal have the quality to hurt Barcelona. Dos Santos should have done better though against his former club. Needed to lean over the ball.
BIG CHANCE FOR THE HOSTS! That should have been the opener. Villarreal come forward on the counter, with Costa setting up Dos Santos, but on the volley he fired over the bar.
BARCA COME TO LIFE! All of a sudden out of nothing Messi finds the run of Suarez with an excellent pass in behind, but Asenjo comes off his line to smother from a tight angle.
Villarreal have the best defence in La Liga, so this could be rather difficult for Barcelona. The home side will be hard to break down. The visitors are already discovering that.
Of course, Barcelona were beaten in the Copa del Rey during the week. They lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night, although they have a second leg to overturn that deficit.
The Catalans are slowly starting to take a grip of this game. Iniesta is the one looking to spray the ball around and up the tempo of Barcelona's play after what has been a slow start.
Roberto was attempting to find Suarez in the middle with a first time cross into the area, but he skews his delivery and Asenjo makes the rather simple save under no pressure.
Barcelona have started this match rather sluggishly. That has been an issue for them all season, but the difference is that Villarreal have the quality to make the most of that weakness.
The case could be made that this is a must win match for Barcelona. The gap currently stands at six points between themselves and Real Madrid. That gap can't grow any further.
This will be a real test for Barcelona. Villarreal are a good side and they themselves will be looking to notch a win that will close the gap between them and the Catalans in the table.
- 1st Half
The first half is under way at El Madrigal! It's Villarreal against Barcelona in La Liga.
TEAM NEWS: Villarreal - Asenjo, Gaspar, Musacchio, Ruiz, Costa, Dos Santos, Trigueros, Soriano, Soriano, Pato, Sansone. /// Barcelona - Ter Stegen, Pique, Mascherano, Digne, Roberto, Busquets, Iniesta, Gomes, Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
I'm Graham Ruthven and you can catch me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts ahead of the match. Is this a must win game for Barcelona this evening? Tweet me!
Good evening and welcome to Eurosport's LIVE coverage of the Spanish Liga clash between Villarreal and Barcelona. We'll bring you all the action from El Madrigal. Kick-off: 19.45.