Barcelona were unable to sustain their two-point lead against Real Madrid after they were held to 2-2 draw by La Liga’s bottom club Espanyol in a thrilling Catalan derby.
Espanyol’s Wu Lei struck late to secure a dramatic draw
Luis Suarez appeared to have inspired another turnaround at the RCDE Stadium after he cancelled out David Lopez’s opener with a deft half-volley before digging out an exquisite pass for substitute Arturo Vidal to finish.
But a red card for Frenkie de Jong with 16 minutes left gave Espanyol renewed hope and Chinese forward Wu emerged the hero, firing past stand-in goalkeeper Neto to rescue a point in Abelardo Fernandez’s first game in charge.
Barcelona remain top of the table but only on goal difference, their two-point advantage removed after Real Madrid earlier clinched an impressive 3-0 win away at Getafe. Atletico Madrid moved up to third after beating Levante 2-1.
Espanyol have not beaten their local rivals in the league since 2009 and are still four points from safety, yet this performance should do wonders for morale.
They will be hoping for another rescue mission from new coach Abelardo, who took over Alaves with six points from 13 games in 2018 and led them to 14th.
Barca now switch their attention to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia next week, where a Clasico final awaits if Real Madrid beat Valencia in the last four and they can overcome Atletico.
But coach Ernesto Valverde will have much to ponder after defensive problems again undermined his team against the league’s bluntest attack.