Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona started and finished strongly on Sunday night but sagged in between and drew 2-2 at less fashionable neighbours Espanyol to cling on to fourth place in La Liga.

Pedri gave Barcelona a second minute lead but Sergi Darder levelled after 40 minutes and set up Raul de Tomas for a counter-attack goal after 64 minutes.

With time running out, Luuk de Jong headed an equaliser that saved a point for Barcelona, but they still end the weekend 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Barcelona applied brisk pressure from the start and quickly gained a reward.

Pedri leapt unmarked at the far post to meet a Jordi Alba cross and volley visiting Barca ahead.

The early domination gradually ebbed. 

Darder levelled for the home team with a curling right-foot shot after 40 minutes.

Barcelona became more desperate after Gavi’s 56th minute strike was ruled out because a bemused Frenkie de Jong was offside as the ball caromed off him in the build up.

Eight minutes later, Espanyol hit their visitors with a beautifully executed counter attack.

Darder’s long pass caught the Barcelona defence too far forward. De Tomas controlled the ball on his chest, ran on unchecked and drilled a shot past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Both teams started added time down to 10 after Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Espanyol’s Nicolas Melamed tangled in the 90th minute and collected their second yellow cards.

In the sixth minute of added time, Luuk de Jong, a 62nd minute replacement, leapt to meet a cross from Adama Traore and smash a header down and into the net.

Barcelona lost ground to third-place Real Betis who won 4-2 at-last place Levante earlier on Sunday.

Nabil Fekir, Edgar Gonzalez, William Carvalho put the visitors three up after 42 minutes.

But Dani Gomez replied with his first two league goals of the season, either side of half time for Levante.

Fekir quelled the resistance with a 49th-minute free kick for the sixth goal in a frantic 39 minutes.

Real Sociedad climbed to sixth as captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted a penalty and Rafael Alcantara added a second as they beat visiting Granada 2-0.

On Saturday, leaders Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Villarreal.

That meant Sevilla, who won 2-0 at home to Elche on Friday, cut the lead to four points 

Atletico Madrid were involved in an uncharacteristic festival of goals as they beat Getafe 4-3.