Barcelona suffered another blow in their title hopes as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Tuesday at the empty Camp Nou. Diego Costa had opened the scoring of the night with an own goal, while Lionel Messi netted once for Barca and Saul Niguez scored a brace.
As expected, the game began on a high intensity with the hosts pushing hard from the first whistle. Their efforts paid dividends when a nightmarish performance from Costa resulted in a 1-0 lead for the Catalan giants. The Spanish striker had deflected a Messi corner in the 11th minute.
The former Chelsea man wasn’t done yet as he missed a penalty in the 18th minute after Yannick Carrasco fooled Gerard Pique for dead and then cut back Arturo Vidal, who had already taken his leg out.
Even though Costa’s shot was saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, VAR showed that the gloveman had moved out of his line too early. It gave Atletico another spot-kick and, much to their satisfaction, Saul scored and brought parity in the game.
The first half did not produce another breakthrough but Messi had come close to get one when his curling free-kick went wide of Atletico goalie Jan Oblak’s far post.
However, the Argentine stalwart did not wait long to score his 700th senior career goal – for Barcelona and Argentina – as the Catalan giants were awarded a penalty in the 49th minute and Messi produced a clinical spot-kick to take his team ahead for the second time.
The story of the night, though, belonged to the visitors due to their determined comeback every time Barcelona pulled away. And, thus it happened that Atletico earned another penalty. Carrasco was the winner again when he was fouled by Nigel Semedo by the slightest of touches.
Saul stepped up again and repeated his first-half heroics to take Atletico level at 2-2, while a dejected Ter Stegen saw the ball squirmed past him into the corner.
Desperate for a win, Barcelona went full throttle in the concluding moments of the game and Vidal had come close twice to take the defending La Liga champions ahead.
But a confident Atletico backline successfully weathered the storm and handed Barca their second draw in a row and third since the resumption of La Liga.
With 70 points from 33 matches, the Quique Setien-managed team failed to topple Real Madrid who are sitting at the top with 71 points from 32 matches.