Valencia shock Barca at home
Defeat is Catalans' first at Camp Nou since April 2012
Barcelona suffered a first home defeat of the season when they lost 3-2 against Valencia after finishing with 10 men in La Liga on Saturday, leaving the door open for Madrid rivals Atletico and Real to move above them.
Barca remain top with 54 points, but Atletico Madrid, who trail on goal difference, can leapfrog them with at least a draw at home to Real Sociedad, as can Real Madrid, who are a point behind, with a victory at Athletic Bilbao.
It appeared to be service as normal when Alexis Sanchez put Barcelona ahead early on but strikes either side of halftime by Daniel Parejo and Pablo Piatti put Valencia in the driving seat.
Lionel Messi equalised with a penalty after 54 minutes but the hosts were caught out again on the counter and Francisco Alcacer put the visitors back in front.
Barcelona continued to struggle at the back and Jordi Alba was dismissed for a second yellow card with 12 minutes left.
The result left the Catalans with one win from their last four league matches.
“It’s a long time since we lost here and it comes at a bad time. Valencia made the most of their chances and we couldn’t do any more,” midfielder Sergio Busquets said.
“We started well and it continued for the first half hour with a lot of chances to score but then Valencia came into it more and we lost our way.”
The victory is a boost for Valencia’s European hopes after they had picked up two points from their last three matches.
“It was perfect for us to win at a place like this. It was a different Valencia performance with the desire to do well,” said Parejo.
“We were ready to take on Barcelona and we knew how the game might go with them having a lot of chances and we [knew we] would have to fight for our own openings.”
Before kickoff there was a minute’s silence for former Spain coach Luis Aragones, who died earlier on Saturday aged 75.
Aragones had coached Barca in the 1987-88 season and led them to victory in the King’s Cup.