Villarreal battle back from 0-2 down against Barcelona

Barça were held 2-2 at El Madrigal amid controversy, penalty calls, and a spirited home performance.

Villarreal battle back from 0-2 down against Barcelona
Kai Försterling EFE

With most taking La Liga as done and dusted, the expectation was for Barcelona to put the final sheen on at El Madrigal, but Marcelino's side refused to lay down and die. In the first minute Villarreal looked certain to score, but the ball somehow bounced back off the post into Bravo's hands.

Being lucky, as well as good, doesn't hurt in the title challenge. The referee didn't enamour himself to the local crowd, who were furious when Piqué wasn't given a second yellow for a clear handball, then apoplectic when the ref blew for a penalty as Neymar went down under Sergio Asenjo's challenge

Enrique sang the praises of Sunday's opposition in his pre-match press conference, noting that Marcelino had marshalled his side into one of the league's "best sides." The Yellow Submarine have been playing to their own tune in 2015-16, rising into the Champions League places on the basis of a solid back four and the goals of Cédric Bakumbu and Roberto Soldado, whose spurs have been jingling afresh after his brief and fruitless spell at White Hart Lane.

Villarreal have lost just six times in La Liga this season, and refused to lose again against Barça. Bakambu drove a rebound in low and Mathieu was unlucky to concede an o.g. when he came on for Piqué, drawing the match level.

A resolute and hard-working display earned los submarinos a well-deserved point. Read the live coverage here: