It was a frustrating night for Lionel Messi and Barcelona, who settled for a 2-2 draw with Girona at the Camp Nou. (Reuters)
Lionel Messi gave Barcelona an early lead on Sunday, but the defending Spanish champions had to come from behind to earn a point in a 2-2 draw against Girona after going down a man in the first half and and a goal in the second.
Messi opened the scoring for the hosts in the 19th minute, finishing a pretty pass from summer recruit Arturo Vidal. Barca appeared to be in full control of the match at that point, but the momentum changed 16 minutes later when defender Clement Lenglet — making his first start for Barcelona — was shown a red card for what the referee, after video review, determined was a reckless elbow to the head of Girona midfielder Pere Pons.
Cristhian Stuani equalized for the visitors just before the halftime whistle sounded, and he put Girona on top just after the break with a rocket of a shot that stunned the crowd at the Camp Nou. Messi nearly pulled the short-handed hosts level with free kick in the 60th minute, but the Argentine’s curling left-footed effort hit the crossbar.
Girona keeper Yassine Bono stopped another Messi free kick moments later. However, the Montreal-born Bono — who made nine saves before the contest was over — was powerless to keep out Barca defender Gerard Pique’s rebound header in the 63rd minute after saving a point-blank Luis Suarez shot that was set up beautifully by Messi.
Barcelona continued to pepper Bono’s goal with shots for the remainder of the match. But even controlling 68-percent of the possession despite playing with 10 players for almost an hour, the home team couldn’t find the late winner.
The draw snapped Barcelona’s perfect start to the season and left them atop La Liga on goal difference, tied on points with rival Real Madrid after five games.
Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
More soccer on Yahoo Sports:
• U.S. midfielder McKennie injured against Bayern Munich
• McIntyre’s 23 Thoughts: MLS vs. Liga MX, Sounders’ streak, Vemes on USMNT
• Pulisic scores Champions League winner for Dortmund on his 20th birthday
• Messi opens Champions League group stage with stunning free kick (video)