Super Eagles winger Samuel Chukwueze was on target for hosts Villarreal as FC Barcelona survived a scare in an eight-goal thriller in a Spanish La Liga clash on Tuesday.
FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi came off the bench to help the La Liga leaders battle back from 4-2 down in stoppage time to snatch a remarkable 4-4 draw at struggling Villarreal.
The Catalans thus avoided a first league loss since November.
A last-gasp Luis Suarez strike after captain and top scorer Messi gave them hope with a deadly free kick in the 90th minute at Estadio de la Cerámica.
The draw resulted in Barca’s lead over nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who had earlier won 2-0 at home to lowly Girona, being trimmed to eight points.
All these have however come ahead of Saturday’s top-of-the-table showdown at the Nou Camp.
Even without Messi, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic in their starting line-up, the visitors still strolled into the lead through a Philippe Coutinho goal in the 12th minute.
Brazilian forward Malcom soon doubled the lead with a header.
But Villarreal, who began the game hovering one point above the relegation zone, were to soon haul themselves back into contention.
It began with a strike from dazling 19-year-old Chukwueze midway through the first half.
Cameroon striker Karl Toko Ekambi took advantage of slack positioning from Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to equalise soon after the interval.
Vicente Iborra completed the home side’s remarkable revival just after the hour mark.
Messi was called from the bench to rescue the champions, but instead Villarreal increased their lead with a strike from substitute Carlos Bacca.
Alvaro Gonzalez was then dismissed for Villarreal for a second booking with four minutes remaining.
It thus paved the way for Messi and Suarez to strike for Barca and produce a remarkable finish to an enthralling contest.(Reuters/NAN)