Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi and Barcelona had to mount a comeback in order to score a draw in a La Liga clash with Girona.
The Argentinian forward scored the first goal of the match, which resulted in a 2-2 tie on Sunday at Camp Nou in Barcelona.
"It was a game that we had under control and then it slipped away from us," Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said, according to FCBarcelona.com. "We managed to get the draw but turn the score around but the feeling is that the team gave everything until the end. The season is long and everything carries on."
Messi's goal came in the 19th minute. Midfielder Arturo Vidal squeezed a pass through traffic, finding Messi in the middle of the box on that play. Messi let the ball roll to his left foot, before burying a one-touch shot past Girona keeper Bono for first blood.
Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet was issued a red card in the 35th minute, forcing the home squad to play with 10 men for the remainder of the bout.
Girona striker Cristhian Stuani hit the equalizer in the 45th minute, keeping the match deadlocked at the break. Defender Aday sent a feed into the box, which Stuani brought down between two defenders. Stuani then split the defense and fired a shot on the ground past Barcelona goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Stuani returned to the stat sheet six minutes into the second half, beating ter Stegen for a second time and giving Girona a 2-1 edge. Girona forward Portu broke into the box on that sequence, but his initial shot was blocked by the Barcelona keeper. The ball then rolled out to Stuani. He smacked a shot into the upper right corner of the net in the 51st minute.
Barcelona stayed in the match despite playing a man down for the entire second half. Messi missed a free kick to tie the score in the 59th minute. The 25-yard attempt sailed toward the upper left corner of the net, but rattled the goal post.
But Messi's squad leveled the Catalan derby in the 63rd minute on a goal from Gerard Pique. Messi used the side of his left foot to put the ball close to the Girona goal during that sequence. Luis Suarez blasted a shot, which was deflected high into the air. The ball then fell to the 6-foot-4 defender, who headed it into the far post netting past Bono for the final score of the match.
"We were doing well 11 v 11 but with 10 it was tough and we had to come back from behind," Barcelona's Sergio Busquets said.
Barcelona battles Leganes in La Liga at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Estadio Municipal de Butarque in Madrid.