Barcelona squandered the chance to go 11 points clear in La Liga on Sunday after blowing a two-goal lead in the space of six minutes in a 2-2 draw at Villarreal overshadowed by a controversial penalty.
A 62nd minute own goal by Barcelona substitute Jeremy Mathieu, who turned a corner into his own net, ended Barca’s hopes of a 13th successive La Liga win after Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu had reduced the deficit.
Ivan Rakitic had given the visitors the lead on 20 minutes from inside the area and Neymar made it 2-0 from the spot in the 41st with a penalty chipped in as goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo went the wrong way.
Barcelona are now nine points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Real Madrid are third, 13 points adrift of Barcelona.
Villarreal, fourth in the table, had coach Marcelino dismissed from the dugout just after Rakitic’s goal when he protested the referee’s decision not to give a second yellow card to Barcelona defender Gerard Pique following a handball.
Barca coach Luis Enrique brought on Mathieu to replace Pique early in the second half.
Rakitic’s goal came from Barcelona’s first shot on target, the ball dropping at his feet as Villarreal struggled to clear a Lionel Messi free-kick and the Croatian stabbing home first time.
Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez’s decision not to book Pique for the handball was controversial and he further enraged the home supporters before the break when he awarded the penalty.
Asenjo reached out a hand to prevent Neymar from getting to the ball first, appearing to touch it before sending the Brazilian over.
Both the hosts and visitors squandered other chances to score, Asenjo tipping away a driving shot from Neymar and Claudio Bravo denying Samu Castillejo.