Barcelona drops points against Atletico after draw

Barcelona: Lionel Messi scored his 700th career goal for club and country before Atletico Madrid came back to draw 2-2 in La Liga and deal Barcelona’s title hopes a major blow.

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

Quique Setien’s side struck first in the 11th minute on Tuesday when Atletico centre forward Diego Costa inadvertently redirected a corner by Messi into his own net.

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

Atletico, however, got to retake the spot-kick as 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 minute. Messi restored the host’s lead in the 56th minute by coolly scoring a penalty in the “Panenka” style, chipping it softly past Atletico custodian Jan Oblak.

The strike was Messi’s 630th club goal to go with 70 for his nation Argentina. It was also his league-leading 22nd goal of the season. Atletico responded again through the speed of forward Yannick Carrasco, who was tripped by Nelson Semedo and sent Saul back to the spot.

ter Stegen got a hand on his enalty but that was not enough to keep it out.

Meanwhile, Sevilla eased to a 3-0 victory over relegation threatened Leganes, thanks to a double from Ferran Torres. The win strengthened Sevilla’s hold on the last (fourth) Champions League spot. It is to be noted that Atletico is in third place. Elsewhere, Mallorca routed Celta Vigo 5-1 to rekindle its hopes of avoiding relegation.