March 1 (Reuters) - Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at relegation-fighting Las Palmas on Thursday in an unexpected setback that left them with a five-point lead in La Liga ahead of their top-of-the-table showdown with Atletico Madrid this weekend.
Lionel Messi fired Barca ahead in the 21st minute with a thunderous free-kick into the top corner but third-bottom Las Palmas pulled themselves back into the game with a penalty by Jonathan Calleri three minutes into the second half.
The Argentine forward sidefooted the spot kick into the top corner after stand-in defender Lucas Digne was judged to have handled the ball after it hit the post, the first time Barca have given away a spot kick in the league for over two years.
The Catalans had little fortune with refereeing decisions and their players and coach Ernesto Valverde were furious when Las Palmas goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola was not punished for appearing to handle the ball outside of the area.
Barca have 66 points and lead the table from Atletico, who visit the Nou Camp on Sunday having won their last eight games in all competitions. Barca have drawn four of their last eight. Third-placed Real Madrid have 51 points with Valencia on 50.
Valverde told reporters he still did not know if the penalty had been given for Digne's handball or a foul and the usually pragmatic coach could not hide his despair at the decision.