The home side received an early gift in the 19th minute when Barça keeper Victor Valdes failed to secure a high ball and spilled it to the feet of Espanyol forward Ferran Corominas, who tapped it home. Their fortunes turned, however, when winger Anderson Nene was sent off right before the break. Nene, who had been carded earlier in the match, was booked a second time for elbowing Barça midfielder Sergio Busquets in the 45th minute.
Down to ten men, Espanyol defended bravely in the second half, with keeper Carlos Kameni making several brilliant saves. In the 70th minute, the referee halted the game and the players were taken off the field due to incidents in the stands. After a break of approximately seven minutes, the match resumed.
In the 84th minute, Kameni parried a shot from forward Thierry Henry, but it rebounded off a defender and back to Henry, who claimed the second-chance goal. The teams were deadlocked deep into stoppage time when Barça substitute forward Samuel Eto'o was tripped in the penalty area by Espanyol defender Nicolas Pareja in the 13th minute of added time. Although the contact appeared minimal, Barça were awarded the penalty, which Messi easily converted. The whistle blew almost immediately afterward.
The win was a landmark victory in a season that saw Barça claim both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.