FC Barcelona were seconds away from losing the top spot in La Liga. However, one of the team’s most criticised players saved Ernesto Valverde’s men. A 90-minute goal from French winger Ousmane Dembele cancelled Diego Costa’s earlier strike, and allowed the game to finish with a 1-1 draw that does not really help either side.
The first half didn’t have a lot of emotions. Things were scrappy and while the intensity was there, the accuracy wasn’t. Antoine Griezmann and Costa led Atletico’s charges, while Lionel Messi was by far the best player for Barcelona. However, neither team created a single dangerous scoring opportunity in the first half. The biggest story of the first half was the injury of Sergi Roberto, who was unable to come back for the second half and was replaced by Rafinha.
Things changed a bit in the second half. Atletico started to look more accurate, and the attacking combination of Costa and Griezmann began to create havoc on the opposing defence. In fact, Atletico almost earned a penalty when Arturo Vidal appeared to commit handball inside the box, but the referee didn’t call it. But the goal would eventually come in the 77th minute. Following a corner kick from Griezmann, Costa nodded the ball home and placed it past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Out of nowhere, Atletico got on top and they seemed in line to get a much-needed win that would have send them to the top of the Liga standings. But Valverde had a secret weapon off the bench, and he sent Dembele to replace Arthur in the 80th minute. The bet would pay off, though. Nearing the end of the match, Dembele took advantage of a short pass from Messi, got past his man, and drilled a shot into the bottom right corner. The Frenchman has been heavily criticised, but he definitively saved the day for Los Blaugranas.
With the draw, Barcelona remained at the top of the standings with 25 points, while Atletico are second with 24. Sevilla could overtake them both in case they win their respective game on Sunday. Without a doubt, this draw doesn’t help either side.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (5); Arias (6), Savic (7), Lucas (6), Filipe Luis (5); Koke (6), Rodri (7), Saúl (5), Lemar (6) (Vitolo (5), 64′); Griezmann (7), Diego Costa (7) (Correa (-), 80′)
Subs not used: Adan (GK), Thomas, Moya, Gelson Martins, Kalinic
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen (5); Nelson (6), Pique (6), Umtiti (6), Jordi Alba (5); Sergi Roberto (5) (Rafinha (5), 46′), Busquets (7), Artur (5) (Dembele (8), 70′), Vidal (6) (Malcom (-), 85′); Messi (7), Suarez (5)
Subs not used: Cillessen (GK), Lenglet, Aleña, Munir
Goals: Costa (1-0, 77′), Dembele (1-1, 90′)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Yellow Cards: Lucas, Griezmann, Costa, Rodri, Filipe Luis (ATM); Busquets, Umtiti, Rafinha (BAR)
Red Cards: None
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