Mar 20, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Estadio El Madrigal
Villarreal
2-2
Barcelona
Bakambu (57'), Mathieu (63' og.)
Soldado (20'), Bruno (24'), Asenjo (40'), Ruiz (41'), Rukavina (43'), Pina (78'), Gaspar (84'), Trigueros (85')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Rakitic (20'), Neymar (41' pen.)
Turan (13'), Pique (16'), Alba (53'), Mascherano (94')

Live Commentary: Villarreal 2-2 Barcelona - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Villarreal and Barcelona at El Madrigal, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Barcelona travelled to top-four hopefuls Villarreal on Sunday knowing that three points would see them open up an 11-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Ivan Rakitic's fifth league goal of the season and a controversial Neymar penalty saw the Catalan outfit take a two-goal lead into the interval.

However, the scores were level at 2-2 in the 63rd minute courtesy of a close-range Cedric Bakambu strike and an own-goal from Jeremy Mathieu.

Both teams pressed for a winner late on, but it ended with a share of the spoils at El Madrigal.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action here.


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2.01pmAfternoon all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from El Madrigal as Villarreal welcome Barcelona in arguably, on paper at least, the game of the weekend in Spain's top flight. Can fourth-place Villarreal end the Catalan outfit's 38-game unbeaten run? It will be tough, but Marcelino's side have produced some excellent performances on home soil this term. Here's to an entertaining game!

2.04pmVillarreal are enjoying a strong campaign, but they have a really rotten record against Barcelona. In fact, the Yellow Submarine are currently on a 13-game winless run against the Catalan giants and have lost each of the last five meetings between the two teams. Not since October 2007 have Villarreal beaten Barcelona in this stadium, which is their worst ever run at home against them.

2.07pmIn terms of more recent history, Barcelona recorded a 3-1 victory in the corresponding match last season and were also 1-0 winners when the pair met at Camp Nou earlier this term. In fact, Barcelona have scored three times in each of their last four games with Villarreal in all competitions and you fancy that three more this afternoon would be enough to secure all the points once again.

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (C) celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Villarreal CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 8, 2015.© Getty Images


2.10pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news. Both sides were in European action in the week, so what changes have been made? Let's take a look...

2.13pmTEAMS:

VILL: Asenjo; Mario, Ruiz, Bailly, Rukavina; Castillejo, Trigueros, Bruno, Suarez; Soldado, Bakambu

BARCA: Bravo; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Turan; Neymar, Suarez, Messi


2.16pmThe main news for Villarreal is that Samu Castillejo has been passed fit to start despite limping out of their 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday night, but there is a change in central midfield as Manu Trigueros replaces Tomas Pina. It is otherwise the same XI that took to the field in Germany, however, with Cedric Bakambu and Roberto Soldado starting in the final third. Mateo Musacchio, Jaume Costa and Jonathan dos Santos are still on the sidelines for the Yellow Submarine.

Players of Villarreal CF celebrate after their teammate Roberto Soldado scored the opening goal during the La Liga match between Villarreal CF and Real Madrid CF at El Madrigal on December 13, 2015© Getty Images


2.19pmBarcelona boss Luis Enrique has recalled Claudio Bravo and Gerard Pique to his starting XI following the clash with Arsenal, while Sergi Roberto and Arda Turan replaced Dani Alves and Andres Iniesta at right-back and central midfield respectively. There is no respite for Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, however, with the trio, who entered the match with 106 goals between them for the season, all selected in the final third. So much attacking talent on display from both teams!

2.22pmSo there we have it. The teams are in and we are now little under 40 minutes from kickoff on this mild afternoon at El Madrigal. As touched upon, both of these sides were in European action during the week – Barcelona booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 3-1 win at home to Arsenal, before Villarreal drew 0-0 at Leverkusen to make the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

2.25pmVillarreal's league record this season reads – played 29, won 15, drawn eight and lost six. They have only found the back of the net on 35 occasions, which is the lowest total in the top eight, but they have only conceded 23 times, which is a record only bettered by top two Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. A total of 53 points has left them in fourth – five points clear of fifth-place Sevilla.

Villarreal's coach Marcelino Garcia Toral reacts during the Spanish league football match Real Valladolid FC vs Villarreal CF at Jose Zorrila stadium in Valladolid on January 25, 2014© Getty Images


2.28pmNot since the 2010-11 season have Villarreal made the top four in La Liga, with Marcelino's side finishing sixth in each of their last two campaigns. An impressive campaign to date has left them in a strong position, but they will enter this match off the back of successive league defeats. The first of those came at home to Las Palmas on March 5, before they lost 4-2 at Sevilla last weekend.

2.31pmThe Yellows have actually only won one of their last five league matches, but that was a resounding 3-0 victory over Levante in this stadium. Sevilla are closing on fourth, but they will travel to Real Madrid tonight and it would be fair to expect Unai Emery's side to drop points at the Bernabeu.

2.34pmVillarreal have also been very strong at home – winning 11 of their 15 league games and only losing twice. They have also only conceded six times at El Madrigal in the league this term and Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla have all been beaten in this stadium this season. The chance to end Barcelona's long unbeaten run is a big carrot for Marcelino's side, who will be keen to return to winning ways.

2.37pmAs for Barcelona, as mentioned, Wednesday's 3-1 win over Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 38 matches. It is a run that stretches back to the start of October, when they lost at Sevilla in the league. Since then, they have won the Club World Cup, made the Copa del Rey final, made the quarter-finals of the Champions League and opened up a healthy lead at the top of the league.

Barcelona players celebrate during the Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Arsenal on March 16, 2016© AFP


2.41pmThe gap from first to second is still eight points following Atletico's 2-1 defeat at Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Victory for Luis Enrique's side would also see them open up a 15-point lead over third-place Real Madrid. The Catalan outfit have won each of their last 12 league games, meanwhile, and are bidding to make it 13 for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when Pep Guardiola was in charge.

2.44pmMessi, Suarez and Neymar were all on the scoresheet against Arsenal as the trio made it 106 goals between them for the season and Neymar just loves playing against Villarreal – hitting seven goals against the Yellow Submarine since arriving in Spain. Barcelona are now the top scorers in La Liga on 84 goals and have only conceded 22 times in their 29 matches. The 'MSN' all start here...

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez celebrate a rare goal during the Champions League game between Arsenal and Barcelona on February 22, 2016© Getty Images


2.47pmA record of 24 wins, three draws and just two defeats in the league this season has rightly left them clear at the top and they have scored 15 times in their last three league fixtures – 5-1 at Rayo Vallecano, 4-0 at Eibar and 6-0 at home to Getafe last time out. This is their first real test in the league since beating Sevilla last month and next up is the small matter of Real Madrid at home!

2.50pm

2.53pmPREDICTION! I fancy Barcelona to nick another three points here. Under usual circumstances, I would be backing Villarreal to secure a point, but they had a tough game in Germany on Thursday night and it is pretty much the same XI - apart from Trigueros. Barcelona, on the other hand, could afford to have a bit of a stroll against Arsenal on Wednesday. For me, 2-1 to the visitors at El Madrigal.

2.56pmJust a reminder of the two teams for this afternoon...

VILL: Asenjo; Mario, Ruiz, Bailly, Rukavina; Castillejo, Trigueros, Bruno, Suarez; Soldado, Bakambu

BARCA: Bravo; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Turan; Neymar, Suarez, Messi


0 minKICKOFF! Here we go then - the pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Time for the football! Villarreal will kick things off at El Madrigal this afternoon...

1 min... POST! Oh my word! Villarreal almost take the lead inside the first minute as Bakambu races clear of Pique before delivering towards Trigueros, who goes up with Turan and the ball bounces towards the bottom corner, only to hit the post and allow Bravo to collect - wow!

3 minWell, no sign of either team taking their time to get into this match as both commit players forward in the opening three minutes. It must be said that the pitch is in wonderful condition and that will suit two teams who like to play football. The atmosphere inside the stadium is also wonderful here.

5 minBarcelona are not being given a moment to settle at the moment as Villarreal continue to put the pressure on all over the pitch. The home side are full of pace and running in the final third and Suarez gets down the right before delivering into the box, but the ball just evades Soldado.

7 minSAVE! Bravo is forced to deny Bakambu this time as the striker meets another cross from Suarez. Good grief Villarreal are committing four, five players to each attack at the moment.

10 minPossession football from Barcelona in the last couple of minutes as they look to derail the early pressure from Villarreal, which has been very high. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be very important in this match. No chances for the MSN thus far here.

11 minFirst sight of goal for Barcelona, but Rakitic's low strike was always angling wide of the post.

13 minSoldado goes down very easily in the Barcelona half and allows the visitors to launch a counter, but Messi's strike is blocked by Ruiz and Villarreal are straight on the counter. End-to-end football.

13 minBOOKING! Turan (Barcelona) is booked for a late challenge on Bakambu.

15 minJust a reminder that a win for Barcelona this afternoon would take them 11 points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid on the same number of matches. Title race over? It has been for some time in my opinion. Are Barcelona going to lose four times from now until the end of the season? No chance.

16 minBOOKING! Pique (Barcelona) is booked for handball.

18 minJust the one clear chance in the opening 18 minutes and that came inside the first 60 seconds, when Villarreal hit the post. Since then, both teams have had their moments without really threatening to make the breakthrough. It has been a very open and entertaining clash at El Madrigal.

20 minJust a reminder that Barcelona's next league match is at home to Real Madrid and if they did suffer defeat here and against their rivals after the international break, the title race would suddenly become a little bit interesting! Neymar is starting to have more of an influence on this match.

20 minBOOKING! Soldado (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Neymar.

20 minGOAL! Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona (Rakitic)

21 minBarcelona have the lead as Rakitic nets his fifth league goal of the season following a mix-up inside the Villarreal box. Asenjo comes to collect a free kick from Messi, but the stopper does not get there and it falls kindly for Rakitic, who just cannot pass up the chance to make it 1-0 here.

24 minVillarreal need to be really careful here as Barcelona start to pass and move in the final third. That said, Pique also needs to be careful as he dives in on Suarez while already on a yellow card.

24 minBOOKING! Bruno (Villarreal) is booked for dissent.

25 minSENT OFF! Villarreal boss Marcelino has been sent to the stands for something that he said to the referee. I think the Spaniard wanted another yellow for Pique for what looked like handball!

28 minVillarreal continue to commit players forward and while it is bringing the crowd to their feet, it is allowing Barcelona the chance to counter. Neymar has a shout for a penalty after going down inside the box under a challenge from Mario, but the referee says no and he is correct on second view.

30 minLittle over 15 minutes of the first period remaining and Villarreal just need to keep their heads here because this referee is very much enjoying pulling out his yellow card at the moment!

32 minSuarez drives down the right and delivers into Neymar on the opposite side, but the Brazilian is just taken a little but too wide and Villarreal have players back to clear. You just feel as if a second Barcelona goal would kill this Villarreal team, who are putting so much work in at the moment.

34 minIt is all very frantic from Villarreal at the moment as they look to press this Barcelona team, but the visitors are just popping it around and looking for openings in the final third. Messi threads a pass into Neymar and the Brazilian returns the favour, but Ruiz is across to make a smart challenge.

36 minAlba fires a low pass into Messi as Barcelona make more ground down the left, but even the Argentine cannot collect the fizzed ball, which was absolutely rattled into his feet!

37 minSAVE! Better from the home side as Suarez works the ball into Trigueros, but the midfielder's powerful strike is straight into the arms of Bravo, who shows good hands to collect.

38 minBakambu drives to the edge of the Barcelona box before striking towards goal, but his effort hits Pique and Bravo can control with his feet. Little over five minutes of the first period to play here.

40 minPENALTY BARCELONA!

40 minBOOKING! Asenjo (Villarreal) is booked and Barcelona have a penalty as the referee says that the stopper felled Neymar inside the box. It is a terrible decision from the referee! Asenjo simply collected the ball and Neymar was ready to play on - it is awful refereeing there!

41 minGOAL! Villarreal 0-2 Barcelona (Neymar, pen)

41 minNeymar rises to his feet and finds the back of the net from the penalty spot. It is so harsh on Villarreal and there might be a booking coming here for Ruiz, who is furious!

41 minBOOKING! Ruiz (Villarreal) is booked for dissent.

43 minBOOKING! Rukavina (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Messi.

45 min+1Villarreal have a free kick in a very dangerous position here...

45 min+1... Bruno plays it short and Barcelona manage to clear. Poor from the home team.

45 min+2HALF-TIME: Villarreal 0-2 Barcelona

3.47pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading 2-0 courtesy of goals from Rakitic and Neymar. The first came from a mistake from Asenjo, before Neymar converted from the penalty spot after the referee had blown for a foul on the Brazilian. It was actually a smart piece of goalkeeping from Asenjo though and a stinking call from the referee.

3.52pmSTATISTICS! Barcelona have dominated the possession with 64%, while they have had seven attempts - three of which have been on target. Villarreal, meanwhile, have hit the target with two of their four attempts. Incredibly, there have been seven bookings in the first 45 here.

3.57pmBENCH WATCH! Villarreal boss Marcelino has plenty of attacking options on his bench this afternoon, with the likes of Baptistao, Adrian and Marin all capable of making a difference. Barcelona, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Munir, Vidal and Dani Alves.

4pmMATCH PIC!

Samuel Castillejo and Lionel Messi in action during the La Liga game between Villarreal and Barcelona on March 20, 2016© AFP


46 minRESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the pitch for the second period. Can Villarreal find a route back in this match? We shall see! Barcelona resume the action at El Madrigal...

47 min... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period gathers pace here.

49 minPossession football from Barcelona as they pass and probe in the Villarreal half and you sense that one more goal for the Catalan outfit would kill off Villarreal's hopes of a comeback at El Madrigal.

51 minNot an awful lot to report since the restart here and in truth, Villarreal have hardly had a kick. Barcelona are just keeping control of the ball and forcing the home side to work very hard. Just a reminder that as it stands, Barcelona are moving 11 points clear at the top of the La Liga table.

52 minBakambu races away towards the Barcelona box and manages to release a strike on goal, but it was always comfortable for Bravo, who collects and looks to release Neymar in a wide position.

53 minBOOKING! Alba (Barcelona) is booked for fouling Soldado just outside the box.

54 minVillarreal have a free kick in a very, very dangerous position...

54 min... Bruno takes, but his effort is straight into the wall.

55 minTriggers whips one over the crossbar as Villarreal come close once again here.

55 minBARCELONA SUB! Mathieu replaces Pique for Barcelona.

56 minMathieu is pressed straight into action to clear a low cross from Bakambu, which had been aimed for Soldado at the near post. Little under 35 minutes still to play at El Madrigal this afternoon.

57 minBARCELONA SUB! Dani Alves replaces Turan for the away team.

57 minGOAL! Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona (Bakambu)

58 minVillarreal are back in the game here as Bakambu converts a low Suarez cross at the far post. The striker could not miss as it is very much game on with more than 30 minutes to play here!

60 minSAVE! Bravo is forced to get down and keep out an effort from Bruno as Villarreal continue to threaten here. However, they must be wary of the counter-attack!

61 minSAVE! Asenjo keeps out an effort from Neymar down the other end!

63 minGOAL! Villarreal 2-2 Barcelona (Mathieu OG)

64 minWe are all square here! Villarreal level the scores at 2-2 as Soldado's header flicks off Mathieu and finds a route into the back of the net! Sloppy defending from Barcelona once again!

66 minBarcelona were strolling at 2-0 ahead here, but Villarreal are making this a proper game and look capable of scoring each time they break forward. Still more than 20 minutes to play here!

68 minBarcelona have just managed to regain some control in the last couple of minutes, which is quietening the home supporters, who have taken the roof off in the last 10 minutes or so. You still get the feeling that there is another goal in this match and I just cannot call it at the moment.

70 minHalf-chance for Roberto, but his low strike was always wide of the post.

71 minVILLARREAL SUB! Adrian replaces Bakambu for the home team.

72 minSAVE! Smart save from Asenjo as the Villarreal stopper gets down to keep out a header from Rakitic, which looked destined for the bottom corner. Still all square at El Madrigal.

74 minMathieu has been very busy since entering the field and the Barcelona centre-back is forced to come across to clear a Castillejo cross, before Trigueros hammers over the crossbar once again.

75 minVILLARREAL SUB! Pina replaces Suarez for the home team.

77 minLittle over 10 minutes of football remaining at El Madrigal and it must be said that it has been a wonderful game of football. Barcelona led 2-0, but Villarreal have pegged them back in this second period and you just sense that there is another goal in this match. It would be a killer, that is for sure!

78 minBOOKING! Pina (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Alves.

81 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last few minutes, but Barcelona are starting to control the possession once again as we head for the final 10 minutes of action here.

83 minPass, pass, pass from Barcelona as they completely take the sting out of this match.

83 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for Rakitic after Asenjo could only a palm a cross into the Croatian, but his effort was always over the crossbar. Super opportunity to score a third!

84 minVILLARREAL SUB! Soldado is replaced by Baptistao for the home team.

84 minBOOKING! Mario (Villarreal) is booked for a foul on Neymar.

85 minBOOKING! Trigueros (Villarreal) is booked for handball.

87 minSAVE! Super stop from Asenjo as the Villarreal stoppers keeps out a long-range strike from Neymar. The referee needs to get a hold of this game, meanwhile, as the challenges fly in!

90 minFour additional minutes to be played at the end of the 90 here.

90 min+1Super challenge from Mascherano as the Barcelona defender comes across to challenge Adrian, who was clear inside the box. It is just sensational from the Argentine there!

90 min+3Barcelona have a free kick in a very dangerous position here...

90 min+4... MISS! Mathieu heads Messi's free kick wide of the post.

90 min+4BOOKING! Mascherano (Barcelona) is booked for handball.

90 min+5FULL-TIME: Villarreal 2-2 Barcelona

4.52pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with the two teams playing out a 2-2 draw - what a game of football! Barcelona make it 39 games unbeaten and move nine points clear at the top of La Liga. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!

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