Valencia hold Barcelona at Camp Nou

Having Messi in your team must be pretty relaxing. Image PA Images

Having Messi in your team must be pretty relaxing. Image PA Images

After going down 2-0 against Valencia, FC Barcelona were awarded a penalty kick.

Before his fitness put a damper on a thrilling match, Messi extended his scoring run to nine straight games across all competitions.

Both teams had enjoyed remarkable comebacks during the week to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals, with Barca thrashing Sevilla 6-1 to win 8-3 on aggregate and Valencia seeing off Getafe 3-1 for a 3-2 aggregate win with two goals in stoppage time.

Parejo was pulling the strings for the visitors and blazed over another good opportunity before Barcelona produced a response with Philippe Coutinho cutting in from the left to force Neto into a low save with a 25-yard shot.

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Barca pushed and pushed for a victor, yet they had to be careful of Valencia's sucker punch all the same.

The validity of Parejo's challenge on Messi on the edge of the Valencia penalty area was debatable but the speed in which the ball was transferred from back to front was nearly instantaneous. That sprung a counterattack led by Rodrigo Moreno, who slipped a pass forward to set up Gameiro.

Barcelona nearly levelled in the 27th minute when Los Che defender Ezequiel Garay sent a Coutinho cross towards his own goal, but Neto was on hand to make an excellent save.

Messi pulled one back with a 39th-minute penalty of his own after Nelson Samedo was fouled by Toni Lato, becoming the first player in Europe's top five leagues to register 20 league goals.

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It would be unfair to single out just one Barcelona defender as they were collectively terrible in the first half. "In the second half, we were far superior".

Coach Ernesto Valverde said Messi was undergoing medical exams.

Messi missed Barcelona's first clasico against Madrid in October due to a broken right arm.

Barcelona's winning streak in La Liga ended at eight matches and they lead second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points, before their closest challengers visit Real Betis on Sunday.

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That's because the Argentine suffered a worrying injury in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday. Fourth-place Sevilla has won only one of its last six league games.

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