Late stunner dents Barca's title hopes


FC Barcelona slipped up in the LaLiga title race following a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday evening.

A first league start of the campaign to highly-rated Riqui Puig highlighted the Catalans line-up, as Ansu Fati, Samuel Umtiti and Ivan Rakitic, who netted the winner in midweek returned.

Gerard Pique almost had Barca off to a dream start in the first six minutes but after getting goal-side, he headed Lionel Messi’s ball against the crossbar with Ruben Blanco well beaten.

The Catalans eventually got the breakthrough inside 20 minutes when Luis Suarez spotted Messi’s chip ball off a free-kick before applying a cool finish off the head.

Celta nearly had a response four minutes later, but excellent shot-stopping from Marc Andre Ter Stegen saw Brais Mendez’ effort coming off the post after a thrilling pass from Denis Suarez.

The Spanish giants were pegged back five minutes from halftime when Okay Yokuslu beat Pique for pace before playing in a low cross from the right which Fyodor Smolov tapped in easily.

Suarez regained the visitors advantage 66 minutes in after turning inside the area for a bottom corner finish following a loose ball from Messi.

Martin Braithwaite made an appearance off the bench for Barca in the place of Fati three minutes thereafter, as Ter Stegen palmed Nolito’s low strike from the left to safety.

Celta sealed a point with three minutes remaining after Iago Aspas’ low free-kick from the area left Ter Stegen flat-footed.

Nolito nearly stole a late victory for his side in added time with a low strike at the back post, but Ter Stegen parried as it ended honours even.

Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Mallorca

Goals from Raul Garcia, Oihan Sancet and Asier Villalibre handed Athletic Bilbao 3-1 victory over Mallorca, who got their only goal via Ante Budimir.

Osasuna 2-1 Leganes

Leganes missed the chance to move out of the relegation zone after suffering defeat at Osasuna.

The visitors thought they had secured a point after Javier Aviles cancelled out Enric Gallego's ninth minute opener but Gallego had the final say, netting the winning goal in the sixth minute of time added on.

Atletico Madrid 2-1 Deportivo Alaves

Atletico Madrid made it three wins in a row to strengthen their grip on third spot on Saturday night.

After scraping past Real Valladolid this week, Diego Simeone's troops were in for another tough clash as they had to wait until the 59th minute for Saul Niguez's opening goal.

Los Rojiblancos were awarded a penalty on 73 minutes, which allowed Diego Costa to slot home his fourth LaLiga goal of the season.

Joselu gave the visitors some in the 93rd minute, but Atletico were able to hold on for three points to move four points clear of fourth-place Sevilla.

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