It looked as though the home fans would have the last laugh at a sodden RCDE Stadium when Gerard Moreno got in ahead of Pique to head home Sergio Garcia's excellent cross midway through the second period.
Espanyol had ended Barcelona's 29-match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on January 17, when Messi missed a penalty kick.
And Iniesta suggested Pique's celebration, which contributed to ugly scenes in the closing stages of a game played in sodden conditions, was par for the course in a passionate encounter.
However, whilst the lead was temporarily extended at the top of the table, it was reduced to nine-points when, in the late fixture, Atletico Madrid beat Valencia 1-0. "That is disrespectful. Telling them to be quiet was the least I could do". Cristian Stuani scored twice against a rival for whom the best news was the return to action of Yeray Alvarez after overcoming cancer for the second time and on World Cancer Day.
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His 82nd-minute goal helped Barcelona extend its unbeaten streak in the league to 22 matches, surpassing the record set under coach Pep Guardiola in 2009-10.
"The players are the ones who best interpret what they have to do on the pitch".
This season, above any other in his career, Gerard Pique has had to deal with the brunt of opposition supporter terrace ire.
When quizzed about Pique's celebration, Flores said: "A player cannot silence supporters and less so ours". When asked about why Leo Messi was started on the bench, Valverde said: "Leo has a lot of games in a row and we have to be a little careful, we usually do it with all the players".
Gerard Pique could miss the upcoming Copa del Rey decider against Valencia.
But Barca, whose cup quarter-final first-leg defeat here brought an end to their 29-match unbeaten run in all competitions this season, battled back and Pique ensured the spoils were shared.