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Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during a Spanish La Liga match between Celta and Barcelona at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo, Spain. Image Credit: AP

Barcelona: Xavi Hernandez had plenty to like and much more to lament about Barcelona’s wild 3-3 draw at Celta Vigo yesterday, when his soon-to-be team squandered a three-goal halftime lead.

Playing its final match under caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan before Xavi takes over as its new full-time manager, Barcelona roared out to a 3-0 lead after playing one of its best halves of the season. Goals from Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay had put the visitors in complete control at half-time.

But injuries to 19-year-olds Fati and Nico Gonzalez, who were having inspired performances, and the resurgence of its defensive doubts helped Iago Aspas lead Celta back with his second-half brace. Aspas scored twice - including a 96th-minute equaliser - as Celta Vigo produced a sensational comeback. Nolito had made it 3-2 with 16 minutes remaining.

Final kick

Aspas capped the comeback with a goal in the final kicks of the match when he scored from long range while Barcelona was hunkered down in its box begging for the final whistle.

“We forgot we had to play the second half,” said a dejected Frenkie de Jong, who provided Barcelona’s only spark after halftime with a shot that hit the crossbar with the score at 3-2.

“We need to show more character. This game was important to move up a bit in the table. It is a very hard blow.”

Top-four finish

Barcelona remained in ninth place in the Spanish league and with its horizon of success narrowing to simply securing a top-four finish to ensure its spot in the Champions League.

Real Madrid increased the gap between Barcelona and the top of the standings to 10 points after beating Rayo Vallecano 2-1.

The draw in Vigo came hours after Barcelona announced that Xavi had agreed to sign through 2024. That will free Barjuan to return to coaching its reserve team after three games in charge following the firing of Ronald Koeman.