Forward Lionel Messi’s penalty in the 39th helped Barcelona avoid an upset as they tied sixth place Valencia 1-1 Sunday afternoon at Mestalla.
The 34th goal of Messi’s season in La Liga play, the Argentinean extended his goal streak to 12 straight league games. The last team to hold Messi scoreless was Celta Vigo back on Nov. 3.
Barcelona was down 1-0 after Valencia midfielder Ever Banega received a rebound from a botched cross by forward Roberto Soldado. Banega steadied himself and patiently rifled a goal past Catalans keeper Victor Valdes in the 33rd minute.
After much back and forth in the second half, neither side was able to break through for the winning goal. Valencia managed to outshoot the Catalans 17 to 10, with three more shots on goal despite a 66 to 34 time of possession in Barcelona's favor.
It was just the second tie for first place Barcelona this season. On Oct. 7, 2012, the Catalans drew with Real Madrid, 2-2.