Late lead slips away as FC Barcelona draw at Valencia, 1–1

 Leo Messi had several chances but couldn't break through on Saturday night at Mestalla. / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Luis Suárez gives Barça the lead just shy of one hour, but Santi Mina notches the equaliser for Los Che just four minutes from time

Just when it looked as if FC Barcelona were going to be the first team to win at Mestalla this season, the Catalans’ only defensive lapse of the game provided Valencia just the window they needed.

After Luis Suárez had put Barça ahead in the 59th minute, Santi Mina drew Los Che level with a strike four minutes from time, snatching two points from FC Barcelona and keeping Valencia — who where missing ten players due to injury or suspension — undefeated at home this season.

The draw snaps an eight game winning streak for FC Barcelona across all competitions but, while it is certain to be regarded as a disappointment, they are now unbeaten in their last eight visits to Mestalla in La Liga. This is Barça’s fifth draw over that stretch.

Barça took the lead just shy of the hour mark when Suárez slotted past Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domènech after appearing to have run out of room deep in the Valencia end.

Suárez and Lionel Messi combined on a brilliant give and go near midfield that sent Suárez barrelling in on goal, and shedding defenders left and right before he shot from an acute angle to Jaume’s left and found a sliver of an opening just big enough to exploit. It was Suárez’s 13th goal in La Liga. Suárez continues to be the league’s number two scorer behind teammate Neymar Jr.

The goal was also just the third Valencia had conceded at home in the league this season.

But with four minutes to play Valencia drew level when forward Paco Alcácer managed to control the ball between Barça defenders Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano before dumping off to a charging Mina, whose one-time blast from 12 metres into the top shelf gave FC Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo no chance to save.

The first half was one of missed opportunities for FC Barcelona, . The Messi–Neymar–Suárez connection, the so-called Trident, tried mightily to do what it does best, but it came up short time and again in the first 45 minutes.

The Trident’s best early chance came in the 26th when Neymar pulled off a brilliant move along the touchline and found Messi alone, only for Messi to shoot straight at the goalkeeper. Suárez then had back-to-back shots in the 34th and 35th minutes but first fired high on a one-time volley attempt and then passed up an open chip shot in favour of  a wide open Neymar, but Suárez’s cross sailed high and behind the streaking Brazilian.

Despite the Barça siege, however, Valencia, playing under interim caretaker head coach Salvador González, aka Voro, stood courageously tall on defence and managed to dodge a Catalan landslide in the battle for possession.

Valencia are now unbeaten at home in their last 19 league games overall dating back to last season, when Barça won at Mestalla on a last-minute goal by Sergio Busquets.

FC Barcelona continue as leaders at the top of the La Liga table, but are now just two points ahead of second-place Atlético Madrid and four points ahead of third-place Real Madrid.