Barcelona’s 16-year-old starlet Lamine Yamal struck twice to rescue the struggling Catalans in a 3-3 draw against Granada in La Liga on Sunday.
Xavi Hernandez’s side, in third, shared the spoils with relegation rivals 19th after a thrilling battle at the Olympic Stadium, but now trail leaders Real Madrid by 10 points.
Los Blancos crushed second-placed Girona 4-0 on Saturday to move five points clear at the top and take full control of the title race.
Earlier, Atletico Madrid’s faint hopes of challenging for La Liga were further dashed with a 1-0 defeat by Sevilla on Sunday.
Youngster Yamal put Barcelona in front but Granada hit back with goals from Ricardo Sanchez and on-loan Manchester United winger Facundo Pellistri.
Robert Lewandowski equalized for Barcelona, but Ignacy Mikel put Granada ahead again before Yamal hit his second from long range.
“It wasn’t meant to be, it’s another missed opportunity, but we have to keep working,” Yamal told Movistar.
“I have the coach’s confidence, but at the moment I’m thinking more about the draw and that we lost two points than about my performance.”
It was the kind of Barcelona performance that summed up why Xavi decided to leave the club at the end of the season, convinced the club needed a change of direction.
“We gave away goals and chances in many moments,” Xavi told Movistar.
“The team had faith, desire and courage as always, but it was not enough and now (winning La Liga) is even more difficult for us.”
Yamal ignited the match from the right side, a rare bright spark in another difficult night for the champions.
Joao Cancelo turned well inside the area and crossed attractively for Yamal to fire at the far post after 14 minutes.
The winger became La Liga’s youngest goalscorer with a goal against Granada in October when the sides drew 2-2.
Barca should have doubled their lead before the break but Martin Hongla cleared Lewandowski’s shot off the line.
The Catalans were almost immediately punished when Pellistri crossed for Sanchez to rifle into the top corner, past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The German goalkeeper, making his first appearance since November following a back injury, showed signs of rust but could not be blamed for the goal.
At the same stage last season Barcelona had conceded eight goals in La Liga, their 31st in 24 games this term, with two more to follow.
Pellistri put Granada in front after Pau Koumbarsi’s odd defensive header fell to Ouzouni.
Barcelona quickly leveled when Gundogan fed Lewandowski who finished clinically for his 10th La Liga goal.
The home fans were hoping their side could take all three points, but Granada — now unbeaten against Barcelona in five games — had other ideas.
Mikel’s header from Faitout Mawasa’s cross gave Alexandra Medina’s side the lead once again.
It took a good effort from Yamal from outside the area to restore parity, with the youngster’s strike curling in at the near post.
Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla, who claimed a second consecutive win for the first time all season, to move up to 15th place, four points clear of the relegation zone.
Isaac Romero headed home after 15 minutes for the Andalusians with fourth-placed Atletico 13 points behind league leaders Real Madrid.
Their silverware hopes are now pinned on the Champions League.
“We’ve lost a lot of points, so many, and away games — it’s something that can’t happen if you want to fight for La Liga,” Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak told DAZN.
“It’s the truth, we have to be honest… we’re a long way from Real Madrid.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone said he is not concerned about his team’s defeat.
“I would be worried if we didn’t play the way we were — I’m proud of what the players are doing and I’m convinced the goals will come,” he said.
Atletico striker Alvaro Morata was taken off with a knee injury and Simeone said he hoped he was “as short as possible”.
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