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Valverde laments 'invisible penalty' in Barcelona draw

Barcelona caoch Ernesto Valverde complained about the officiating during the match against Las Palmas. Reuters/Heino Kalis

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde hit out at the officials on Thursday night after his side's 1-1 draw at Las Palmas. The stalemate allowed Barcelona to move five points clear of second placed Atletico Madrid who they entertain on Sunday night at the Camp Nou.

Valverde's side remain unbeaten after 26 games. But the 54-year-old claimed the Las Palmas equaliser came from what he described as an invisible penalty.

Three minutes into the second-half, Barcelona failed to clear a cross into their penalty area and as the ball rebounded off the post, it struck the seemingly unaware Lucas Digne on the arm.

Referee Antonio Mateu pointed to spot. Moments later Jonathan Calleri dispatched his kick past the Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to cancel out Lionel Messi's opnener for the Catalans.

"We do not know what happened in this play," Valverde said. "From the field I found it unspeakable, but these are things that happen."

He added: "We do not know why the referee whistled in that play. In the locker room nobody knows. Hopefully seeing it on TV will clarify a bit the decision. It was an invisible penalty."

Barcelona have 66 points from their fixtures. However their once seemingly impregnable lead has been eroded over the past month by Atletico's impressive run. Diego Simeone's men have won their past eight games and they turned on the style on Wednesday night in a 4-0 annihilation of Leganes.

France interntaional Antoine Griezmann scored all four goals in the thrashing and Atletico have an extra day to recover for the clash against the pacesetters.

"The match against Atletico comes fast," Valverde said. "But that's how it is. There remains a bad taste after not winning here against Las Palmas when we thought we could have done."