Celta’s former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas scored a late goal to deny Barca what would have been a crucial three points in the race for this season’s La Liga title after a brace from Luis Suarez had initially put the Catalan club in control.

Barca’s Uruguayan ace scored either side of halftime to put the Catalan side in a healthy lead, but Fedor Smolov, on loan at Celta Vigo from Lokomotiv Moscow, leveled the scoreline in the second half.

Lionel Messi was a creative force throughout as he laid on both goals for his strike partner, but even the influence of the diminutive Argentinian wasn’t enough to overcome relegation-threatened Celta Vigo in front of an empty Estadio de Balaidos.

It could have been even worse for Setien’s side if Brais Mendez’s strike didn’t rebound off the woodwork, or if Nolito didn’t shoot straight at Marc-Andre Ter Stegen with the goal at his mercy in the game’s closing moments.

Messi has now gone three games without finding the net for Barcelona and remains fixed on 699 career goals for club and country.

However, his artistry in laying on two strikes for Suarez did mean that he secured the 250th assist of his exemplary career.

The result is a potentially crucial one for Zidane’s Real Madrid who know that a win against bottom-of-the-table Espanyol on Sunday can put them in the driving seat.

Currently, Barcelona have a goal difference of 39 while Real Madrid sit on 38. 

Madrid have hit the ground running since the La Liga returned from its coronavirus hiatus, winning all four of their games since the restart. Barcelona, meanwhile, have three wins and two draws in their five games since the restart.

It could get worse for Barca, too, as they host third-placed Atletico Madrid in the Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Zidane hoping that his bitter city rivals do them a favor in the hunt for what would be just their second La Liga crown in the last seven seasons.

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