TStv Africa

TStv Africa
 

Gerard Pique was a deeply unpopular goalscorer at Espanyol as Barcelona battled back to preserve their unbeaten LaLiga record with a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

This clash was the rivals' third meeting in two and a half weeks after Barca prevailed 2-1 over two legs of a closely contested Copa del Rey quarter-final last month.

Pique prompted an Espanyol complaint to the Spanish Football Federation after the second leg of that tie following comments he made disputing the clubs' rivalry over the location of Espanyol's stadium.

It looked as though the home fans would have the last laugh at a sodden RCDE Stadium when Gerard Moreno got in ahead of Pique to head home Sergio Garcia's excellent cross midway through the second period.

Seemingly with one eye on Thursday's Copa semi-final second leg against Valencia, Ernesto Valverde opted to start Lionel Messi on the bench and the Argentine genius had only been on the field seven minutes when Moreno struck.

Barca seemed to be heading for a first LaLiga loss under Valverde as the saturated pitch prevented the leaders implementing their slick passing style but the equaliser arrived via a more conventional route as Pique rose highest to head home Messi's free-kick eight minutes from time.
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