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Spanish La Liga

Barcelona’ held by Atletico, Real Madrid Get Leeway

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An own goal and three penalties, one of them retaken to bring the total to four, delivered a draw 2-2 draw between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to dent the La Liga champions hopes of retaining the title.

 

Barcelona’s third draw in four rounds left it in second place, one point behind leaders  Real Madrid.

 

Madrid host Getafe on Thursday with a chance to open up a four-point lead with five more matches remaining.

Diego Simeone’s Atlético remained undefeated in the six matches since the competition resumed. It stays in third place, 12 points behind Madrid.

Barcelona struck first in the 11th minute when Atletico striker Diego Costa inadvertently deflected a corner by Lionel Messi into his own net.

Costa’s night got worse shortly after when his penalty was blocked by Barca’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Atletico, however, got to retake the spot-kick when a video review determined that the Barcelona goalkeeper had moved off his line too early.

Saul Niguez stepped up instead of Costa on the second attempt and converted to level the score in the 19th.

Messi restored the host’s lead in 56th by coolly scoring a penalty in the “Panenka” style, chipping it softly past goalie Jan Oblak. T

he goal was Messi’s 700th career goal and his 630th for the club to go with 70 for his Argentina. It was also his league-leading 22nd goal of the season.

Atletico responded again through the speed of forwarding Yannick Carrasco, who was tripped by Nelson Semedo and sent Saúl back to the spot. Ter Stegen got a hand on his penalty but not enough to keep it out.

Barcelona was two points ahead of Madrid when the league was halted in March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

While Madrid has won five of five since the resumption after a three-month stoppage, Barcelona has only won three of six. The pressure is increasing on coach Quique Setien, who took over the team in mid-season with the task of rekindling its attacking spirit.

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