Borja Oubina struck with just two minutes remaining to claim a potentially vital point in their battle against the drop against table-topping Barcelona at Ballaidos.
The visitors looked set to pick up another three points in their seemingly inexorable march toward the tile after Cristian Tello and Lionel Messi had rubbed out an opening goal from Nacho Insua. But Celta never gave up and took advantage of Barcelona’s failure to kill off the match when Oubina headed a late equalizer.
The result still leaves Celta submerged in the relegation zone, yet they will surely take confidence into their remaining nine games of the season. While Real Madrid have the opportunity to close the gap at the top to 11 points later in the day, the result is unlikely to prove costly to Barcelona. It was an unwelcome return, though, of the sloppiness that dogged the Blaugrana before their recent upturn in form.
It was a contest in which both teams fielded weakened lineups. Celta were without a host of players through injury and suspension, including influential top scorer Iago Aspas. Barcelona, already missing the likes of Xavi, Victor Valdes, Jordi Alba and Adriano, elected to leave Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta on the bench with Tuesday’s champions League meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in mind.
With Tito Vilanova back with the club, although not in Vigo, and Eric Abidal returning to the bench, it had been an uplifting week for Barcelona. Yet, they were left bitterly aggrieved after half an hour that they were not given the opportunity to take the lead.
Messi went on a trademark dribble in the box and his lighting fast footwork was too quick for Celta defender Vadim Demidov who tripped the Argentinean with an outstretched leg, but no penalty was awarded.
By that time Tello had already wasted a very presentable opening, yet it was the underdogs that took the lead. Fabian Orellana received the ball on the right of the area and turned back inside a defender before threading it forward to Insa, who poked the ball past Jose Manuel Pinto at his near post.
The lead was not to last long. Just five minutes later, Messi supplied a stunning pass over the top to send Tello clear down the left. The young forward took the ball perfectly into his stride and into the box before he opened his body up to place a perfect shot into the net off of the far post.
While Barcelona took charge of proceedings, the scoreline remained even until the visitors struck in the 73rd minute. Messi threaded an incisive ball through to Tello down the left of the box and the wide man returned the favor from the first half with a fine first-time pull back to complete a stunning one-two and La Liga’s top scorer struck home first time.
Although Barcelona were unable to get a decisive third goal, an away win still appeared a near inevitability. But Celta were not ready to accept defeat.
Orellana was the creator once again this time with an excellent cross to the far post where Oubina was on hand and produced a text book header back across goal into the corner past an unmoved Pinto to send the fans inside the Ballaidos jubilant.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.