Liga - Fabregas grabs Barca draw at Valencia

A late Cesc Fabregas goal salvaged a 2-2 draw for Barcelona against Valencia in an entertaining Liga match at the Mestalla.

Valencia opened the scoring after just 12 minutes when Jeremy Mathieu surged down the left and hit a low cross into the space between the Barca defenders and Victor Valdes. The retreating Eric Abidal accidentally nudged the ball past Valdes and into the bottom corner.

The lead was not to last long, though: just 90 seconds later Fabregas back-heeled a first-time pass to Lionel Messi, who threaded a wonderful little ball between centre- and left-back. Pedro, running in from the wing, put the ball past Vicente Guaita at his near post.

Valencia broke down Barcelona's right-hand side constantly in the first 45 minutes, and it was not long before they again scored via that route. Mathieu once more was the provider, as his cross beat the despairing lunge of Abidal and Pablo Hernandez was left all alone eight yards out to ram the ball past Valdes who dived the wrong way.

Valencia missed a golden opportunity to double their lead after yet more brilliant work from Mathieu as he skipped past the challenge of Javier Mascherano and drove into the area. His low centre got a touch from Valdes and that was enough to cause Roberto Soldado to miscue from all of four yards when in front of an open net.

The second half was a tamer affair, with Valencia more content to sit and absorb Barcelona's attacks. Mascherano hit the angle of post and bar with a thunderous shot midway through the half and Messi also wasted an opportunity after running through on goal.

It was left to Fabregas to do the damage just a couple of minutes later. He sprang the offside trap to receive a dinked pass from Messi and was one-on-one with Guaita: the ex-Arsenal man took his time and calmly slotted past the motionless goalkeeper.

It was backs to the wall for the last 10 minutes for Valencia and three chances in a matter of seconds went begging as David Villa, Adriano and Messi all failed to take advantage of openings.
Jordi Alba was sent off for the home side in added time for an incident off the ball, but by now Valencia had weathered the storm and were grateful to hold out for the draw.

Tom Embury-Dennis / Eurosport