Las Palmas 1-1 Barcelona: Jonathan Calleri's penalty cancels out Lionel Messi free-kick
sbo222 Lionel Messi's stunning free-kick was not enough for Barcelona as a controversial penalty earned Las Palmas a 1-1 draw on Thursday to throw La Liga's title race wide open.
Barcelona will host Atletico Madrid on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football, in a clash of first against second - a match now even more important now Ernesto Valverde's side's lead has been cut to just five points.
Messi seemed to have set Barca on course to restoring their advantage to seven ahead of this weekend's showdown at the Nou Camp but two decisions from referee Antonio Mateu helped Las Palmas snatch a point.
First, Mateu overlooked a handball from goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola outside the box, which could have drawn a red card, and then he awarded a penalty when the ball struck Lucas Digne on the arm.
Former West Ham striker Jonathan Calleri made no mistake from the spot but Barcelona will feel hard done by given Digne's handball looked entirely accidental after the ball bounced up off the post. sbo222
But even after Calleri's penalty they had 42 minutes to find a winner and, in truth, created little as Las Palmas held on to pick up their first point against Barca in 17 years.
Early on Barca started brightly but they spurned a glorious chance to open the scoring when Messi's final pass to Luis Suarez was under hit and the first big chance of the game went begging.
Messi seemed determined to atone for his error as he delightfully popped the ball over one defender, before driving past two more and winning a free-kick on the edge of the box. He took it, with Chichizola having to push the ball around the post.
In the 21st minute, however, Messi won another free-kick after an irrepressible run and this time it carried the more punitive result. Messi planted the ball left-footed into the top right-hand corner.
The first controversy came on the stroke of half-time as Chichizola came rushing out of his area but after skewing his clearance, the 'keeper quickly stopped the ball with his hand. Mateu blew only for the interval, much to the anger of Valverde, who left the pitch while protesting to the official. Chichizola was fortunate not to be sent off.
Any sense of injustice was doubled three minutes after the break, however, when Mateu awarded Las Palmas their penalty.
Barca failed to clear a cross into their box and as the ball cannoned off the back post, it struck the oblivious Digne on the arm. Calleri coolly dispatched the spot-kick.
On came the extra firepower, as Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele replaced Aleix Vidal and Andres Iniesta but Barca rarely troubled in the latter stages as Las Palmas held on. sbo222
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