Barca loss, Real draw send Atletico top
ATLETICO Madrid moved top of La Liga on October 2 as Celta Vigo edged Barcelona in a 4-3 thriller while Real Madrid’s run of draws stretched to four against Eibar. Three goals in 11 minutes in the first half doomed a Barca side again missing the injured Lionel Messi as Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and a Jeremy Mathieu own-goal put Celta in command.
Gerard Pique and a Neymar penalty reduced Barca’s deficit, but MarcAndre ter Stegen teed up Pablo Hernandez to restore Celta’s two-goal lead before Pique headed in his second goal home.
Barca boss Luis Enrique’s heaviest defeat in charge came in a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Celta last season and the former Celta coach suffered another embarrassing return to Balaidos.
“I can’t be satisfied because we have thrown away the opportunity to go top before the international break,” said Enrique.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, remain two points ahead of the champions, but were booed off at the Santiago Bernabeu after a 1-1 draw against the Basque minnows.
Atletico lead their city rivals on goal difference at the top of the table despite missing two penalties as Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro scored in a 2-0 win at Valencia.
Enrique introduced Andres Iniesta on his 600th Barca appearance for the second-half and his presence transformed the Catalans in the second half.
Pique headed home Iniesta’s cross to give the visitors hope and a brilliant pass into Andre Gomes provoked a penalty just after the hour, which Neymar converted.
However, all of Barca’s good work was undone when Ter Stegen chipped the ball into the path of the onrushing Pablo Hernandez to head into an unguarded net.
Pique set up a grandstand finish three minutes from time and the centre-back was inches away from an incredible hat-trick when he glanced a header wide in stoppage time.
Earlier, Eibar was jubiliant over scoring their first-ever goal and point against Madrid.
Fran Rico headed the visitors into a sixth-minute lead before Gareth Bale’s 50th La Liga goal rescued a fourth consecutive draw for Real.
“The game is 90 minutes long and lately we have started matches very badly,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
It is the first time Madrid have drawn four successive games since Zidane was a Real player in 2006. Real Madrid coach
“It is not a crisis. It is still October and I am not going to go crazy, but something is wrong,” added Zidane.
The European champions badly missed the presence of Luka Modric, who is sidelined for a month after undergoing knee surgery on October 2.
Real took almost an hour to get firm control of the game and Cristiano Ronaldo squandered a chance to go ahead, blasting the ball over from point-blank range.
A super Bale header also came back off the post, and substitute Alvaro Morata had a goal ruled out for offside.
Earlier, Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves’ heroics couldn’t stop Atletico as he extended his exceptional penalty record with stops of Griezmann and Gabi before Gameiro finally sealed a deserved three points for Atletico in stoppage time in sight of Valencia’s new coach Cesare Prandelli, who was watching from the stands before officially taking charge of the team yesterday. Alves took his record of saved penalties to 22 from 45 faced in Spanish football. –
‘It is not a crisis. It is still October and I am not going to go crazy, but something is wrong.’
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez (right) fights with Celta Vigo defender Hugo Mallo for the ball during a match in Vigo on October 2. Celta won 4-3.