Result: Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona

Pep Guardiola
© PA Photos
Barcelona fail to keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid after their 1-1 draw at Espnayol in the Catalan derby.

Barcelona have failed to keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 1-1 draw at Espanyol in the Catalan derby.

The match got off to a frantic start when Joan Verdu's back-post header was saved by visiting goalkeeper Victor Valdes. The midfielder was first to the rebound, but his shot cleared off the line by Gerard Pique.

Barca had a goal ruled out soon after when Cesc Fabregas tapped in following Lionel Messi's interception of keeper Cristian Alvarez's pass. However, the referee cancelled the goal out for a dubious handball by Messi.

Fabregas legitimately found the net minutes later when he powered a header past Alvarez from Dani Alves's cross.

Sergio Garcia's effort was parried away by Valdes as Espanyol put their opponents under pressure, while Christian Romaric blazed over from 25 yards.

Fabregas had a chance to double his side's lead just before the break, but his solo effort was tipped wide by the keeper.

Espanyol could have been reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time when Romaric appeared to elbow Pique when the pair challenged for an aerial ball.

Alves saw his shot easily saved by Alvarez just after the interval before the Brazilian had a goal ruled out for offside.

A tentative period of play followed before Xavi curled his free kick over the bar.

Messi nearly grabbed a second for Barca with 15 minutes to go, but his right-footed shot hit the post from a tight angle.

Espanyol grabbed their equaliser with five minutes to play when Alvaro Vazquez nodded in Thievy Bifoum's flick-on from Raul Rodriguez's cross.

Barca nearly found a winner in injury time when Pique's shot bounced back off the post to Pedro, whose shot was then blocked on the line.

Eric Abidal
Read Next:
Liverpool, Man City track Abidal
>

Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid14104037122534
2Barcelona1484234151928
3Sevilla148332520527
4Atletico MadridAtletico1474328111725
5Athletic Bilbao147252017323
6Villarreal146531910923
7Real Sociedad147252319423
8EibarEibar146352119221
9Celta Vigo146352426-221
10Las PalmasLas Palmas145542522320
11Malaga145542321220
12Espanyol144731717019
13AlavesAlaves144551417-317
14Real Betis144371728-1115
15Leganes144281125-1414
16Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo143471824-613
17Valencia143381926-712
18Sporting GijonSporting Gijon143381528-1312
19Granada141581330-178
20Osasuna141491329-167