Barcelona gave up a 3-0 halftime lead to end up drawing it 3-3 against Celta Vigo in La Liga on Saturday in what was the final game for the Catalan giants before their new era under club legend Xavi Hernández begins.
Barcelona’s performance would have given Xavi plenty to like and much more to lament about before he takes over the reins from caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan.
Barcelona roared out to a 3-0 lead after playing one of its best halves of the season. But injuries to Ansu Fati and Nico González, who were having inspired performances, and the resurgence of its defensive doubts helped Iago Aspas lead Celta back with his second-half brace.
Aspas capped the comeback with a second on one of the final kicks of the match when he scored from long range while Barcelona was hunkered down in its box begging for the final whistle.
Barcelona remained in ninth place in the Spanish league and with its horizon of success narrowing to simply securing a top-four finish to ensure its spot in the Champions League.
Fati had to be replaced after netting Barcelona’s opener. Midfielder Nico, who was also having a superb performance, and defender Eric García both went down in the second half. They joined an injured list that already included Pedri González, Gerard Pique, Ousmane Dembelé, Sergiño Dest, Sergio Agüero and Martin Braithwaite.
Fati’s left-thigh injury will likely rule him out of Spain’s decisive World Cup qualifiers next week against Greece and Sweden that it needs to win to qualify directly for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Sergio Busquets, Xavi’s old teammate, doubled the advantage in the 18th with a rare goal for the veteran. The holding midfielder struck a fine curling effort from outside the area to put the ball just inside the post.
And Barcelona looked ready to roll to a big win after Memphis Depay sliced a header home from a cross by Jordi Alba after a key pass by Nico in the 34th.
But then the injuries came, and Celta took the initiative when Aspas pulled one back in the 52nd minute. The striker finished off a ball that Marc-Andre ter Stegen failed to clear from his area when poorly blocked a striker Javier Galán.
Barcelona was then on the defensive when Nolito Agudo’s 74th-minute header cut the deficit to one.
Later, Real Madrid can overtake leader Real Sociedad when it hosts Rayo Vallecano.