The Argentine netted his 450th Barca strike to end a dry spell in front of goal, but Rakitic’s own goal and Mina condemned the Catalans to a third straight Liga reverse
The Catalans knew they could not afford to drop points again after previous defeats at the hands of Real Madrid and Real Sociedad – with Atletico Madrid moving level on points earlier on Sunday following their win over Granada – and created numerous chance to open the scoring in the opening stages of the game.
Luis Suarez, Messi and Neymar all failed to beat the excelling Diego Alves, though, as the Valencia goalkeeper pulled off a string of fine saves.
An own goal from Ivan Rakitic then saw Valencia take a shock lead, before Santi Mina doubled the visitors’ lead with his fourth league goal of the season.
Messi eventually got his milestone goal after the break to end his barren run, but it was not enough to salvage a draw as Valencia held firm.
This weekend’s results mean Barcelona are level on 76 points with Atletico, while third-placed Real Madrid have moved to within just one point as the title race hots up