MADRID (Reuters) – Real Sociedad stunned ten-man Barcelona by handing the leaders their first La Liga defeat this season when they came from two goals down to claim a last-gasp 3-2 win on Saturday.
Imanol Agirretxe slid in to grab the winner for the impressive hosts in added time after Lionel Messi and Pedro had given Barca an early lead.
Messi’s goal, his 10th in 10 consecutive league games, matched the La Liga record set by fellow Barca players Mariano Martin in the 1942/43 campaign and Brazil’s Ronaldo in 1996/97.
Gonzalo Castro pulled one back for the Basque side four minutes before halftime and he levelled the scores, soon after Gerard Pique was sent off in the 56th minute for a second bookable offence, with a deflected shot.
"I have to congratulate Real Sociedad. Their victory is more to do with how well they played than my players not playing well," Barca coach Tito Vilanova told a news conference.
Barca, who had only dropped points this season in a 2-2 draw at home to champions Real Madrid, stayed on 55 points from 20 games, 11 ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Atletico host Levante on Sunday when Real Madrid, 18 points off the pace in third, visit Valencia.
Earlier, Rayo Vallecano’s impressive surge up the table was halted when they lost 2-0 at Granada and missed a chance to consolidate their position in the European qualifying places.
Granada took the lead when Rayo defender Jordi Amat turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Odion Ighalo in the 24th, and Recio completed only their second home win of the campaign with a low shot 10 minutes from time.
Rayo stayed sixth with 31 points, while Sociedad’s victory over Barca put them ninth with 29.
Messi had already fired wide in a one-on-one with the keeper when he stroked Barca in front from the edge of the area in the seventh minute at Anoeta.
Pedro lashed a shot against the post and in the 18th minute the referee had to stop the match and ask both captains if they were happy to continue after a partial floodlight failure.
The game resumed and Dani Alves crossed low for Pedro to slide in and notch Barca’s second in the 25th, and a Messi lob bounced against the post and was cleared off the line.
"The key moment was when Messi’s shot stayed on the line. At 3-0 it would have been game over," Vilanova added.
Sociedad had given Real Madrid a scare at the Bernabeu two weeks ago before losing 4-3 and the pressure they put on Barca started to unsettle the visitors before the break when Castro fired low into the far corner after 40 minutes.
Keepers Claudio Bravo and Victor Valdes, in the spotlight after saying he would not renew his Barcelona contract when it runs out in 2014, made fine saves but the game was blown wide open when Pique collected his second yellow card.
"They got back into the game with a goal, and it all changed with the sending off," said Vilanova.
Barca were struggling to break out of their own half and after failing to clear a corner Castro’s shot deflected off substitute Javier Mascherano and past Valdes in the 62nd minute.
Barca appeared to have weathered the storm as they took control of possession, but the outstanding Carlos Martinez swung in a teasing cross at the end, and Agirretxe got between the central defenders to bundle in the decider.
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