Barcelona’s fading La Liga title hopes have suffered a real setback, with a dramatic penalty-filled 2-2 draw at home to Atletico Madrid.
Quique Setien’s side will end the week four points behind rivals Real Madrid, if Zinedine Zidane’s team beat Getafe on Thursday.
La Blaugrana were handed a fortunate opener on 11 minutes, as Lionel Messi’s corner was flicked on by Sergio Busquets, with the loose ball diverted into his own net by Diego Costa.
The visitors responded immediately, as Yannick Carrasco was brought down for a penalty on 14 minutes, but Marc Ter Stegen saved Costa’s effort.
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However, the referee ordered a retake, and booked the German international for coming off his line too early before making the stop.
Saul Niguez took over penalty responsibilities from Costa, and calmly drew Diego Simeone’s side level on 19 minutes.
Messi reestablished Barcelona’s lead five minutes after the break, clipping home another penalty, for his 700th career goal, after Nelson Semedo was caught by Felipe Monteiro.
But, the penalty theme continued in the final half hour, as Carrasco was fouled by Semedo, on 62 minutes, with Niguez burying his second spot kick of the night.
The defending La Liga champions now face an uphill battle to keep pace with Real Madrid, with a crucial trip to Villarreal this weekend.