Barcelona failed to regain their two-point lead at the top of LaLiga after Wu Lei scored a late equaliser for Espanyol in a 2-2 derby draw that saw Frenkie de Jong sent off for the visitors.
The champions fell behind 23 minutes into a contest they dominated but in which their best football was rarely in evidence against the division’s bottom club.
Thankfully for Ernesto Valverde, Luis Suarez was at his lethal best, instinctively making it 1-1 shortly before he brilliantly teed up Arturo Vidal for Barcelona’s second.
But after De Jong was shown a second yellow card, Espanyol ramped up the pressure and Wu clinched a precious point for LaLiga’s bottom club as he became the first Chinese player to score against Barca in a competitive game.
The result leaves the champions level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table at the midway point of the season.
Barca were punished for their tepid start to the game when Marc Roca floated a free-kick into the box where David Lopez lost his marker and beat Neto with a glancing header into the far corner of the net from 12 yards.
The visitors dominated the ball as they so often do in LaLiga but failed to threaten until five minutes from half-time when Lionel Messi headed into Diego Lopez’s arms shortly before Suarez toe-poked a low shot onto the outside of the post.
The equaliser came swiftly after the restart, Jordi Alba landing a deliciously weighted pass onto Suarez’s instep, and the Uruguay international’s first-time finish tucked the ball just inside Diego Lopez’s near post.
Suarez somehow managed to better Alba’s cross when he deftly chipped the ball with the outside of his right boot to substitute Arturo Vidal, whose powerful header bulged the net despite Diego Lopez getting a hand to it.
He got both hands to Suarez’s next shot, a powerful rising drive from 12 yards after Messi put him through, the Espanyol keeper palming the ball away from danger.
De Jong received his second yellow card for a shirt-pull on Jonathan Calleri and Espanyol exploited the additional space with three minutes left.
Matias Vargas played Wu into the area and the China international rifled a low shot into the left corner of the net from a tight angle to rescue a point that his side deserved for their perseverance and bravery against new coach Abelardo’s old team.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
ESPANYOL: López, Rodríguez, Pereira, Bernardo, Vila Gómez (Vargas 62), López (Iturraspe 67), Roca, Melendo (Wu 74), Calleri, Darder
Subs not used: Prieto, Pedrosa, López, Campuzano
Booked: Rodriguez, Roca
Goals: Lopez (23), Wu (88)
BARCELONA: Neto, Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba, Rakitic (Vidal 45), Busquets, De Jong, Messi, Suárez, Griezmann (Semedo 80)
Subs not used: Umtiti, Firpo, Peña, Pérez, Fati
Booked: De Jong
Sent off: De Jong (75)
Goals: Suarez (50), Vidal (59)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande