Barcelona slipped up with a 0-0 draw at Sevilla to hand Real Madrid a huge LaLiga title boost, as Lionel Messi was kept waiting for his 700th career goal.
Messi had scored 37 in his 38 previous outings against Sevilla, more than against any other team, but a series of threatening free-kicks were repelled by the home side this time.
Antoine Griezmann was surprisingly left out of Barcelona’s starting line-up for the clash with third-placed opposition, as Martin Braithwaite was preferred, and the visitors lacked penetration.
The draw leaves them still top of the table, but Real Madrid, with a game in hand, are just three points off the summit.
This stalemate at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium could prove a costly one for Barcelona come the end of the season, and it was almost worse for them, with Sevilla’s Sergio Reguilon, on loan from Real Madrid, squandering a glorious late chance.
Sevilla defender Jules Kounde drilled an early shot a yard wide, but Barcelona were soon on top and for a while they looked terrific.
It took two Sevilla players to stop Messi at the expense of a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area at the 20-minute mark.
Up stepped Messi, and his shot beat the wall and might have beaten Tomas Vaclik too, but the goalkeeper was done a favour by Kounde, who cleared the ball from almost on the line with a flicked header over the bar.
Messi tested Vaclik moments later with another free-kick, and the goalkeeper was more comfortable second time around.
Inevitably at the centre of things, Messi avoided punishment for shoving Diego Carlos to the ground in first-half stoppage time after the home defender fouled Suarez.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen came to Barcelona’s rescue early in the second half with a fine parry to deny Lucas Ocampos, the goalkeeper’s strong left hand keeping out a thunderous shot from a tight angle to the right of goal.
The German thwarted Munir moments later too, pushing away a vicious left-footed strike.
Vaclik tipped another Messi free-kick over his crossbar at full stretch as the game entered its final 20 minutes, before Jordi Alba made a key block at the other end as Sevilla launched a three-on-one breakaway raid.
Ocampos drew a save from Ter Stegen with a low shot but neither side could successfully plot a way to a goal, Reguilon failing to properly get hold of a close-range shot at the death, to Barcelona’s great relief.