Real Madrid, Barcelona play 1-1 draw in La Liga

Barcelona: A late goal by defender Sergio Ramos helped table-toppers Real Madrid force a 1-1 draw to maintain their six-point lead over FC Barcelona in the La Liga football standings.

The contest at Camp Nou stadium here on Saturday got off to a good start. Real Madrid could have received penalty in just the third minute for Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano's takedown of Lucas Vazquez in the penalty area, reports Efe.

But a cagey battle soon became the theme of the match, with star attackers of both sides inclusive of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Neymar, Luis Suarez not given the room needed to operate effectively.

Barcelona had majority of ball possession in the first half but they lacked a strong midfield play.

Only Messi, with a benign free-kick, forced Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas into action in the first half, while the visitors started putting more pressure on Bacelona custodian Marc-Andre ter Stegen just before the half time.

The complexion of the match changed, however, when Barcelona's Suarez headed home a free-kick from Neymar in the 53rd minute to give the Catalans a 1-0 lead. Barcelona seized further control after substitute midfielder Andres Iniesta took the field six minutes later to bolster the hosts' ball-control game.

Iniesta, Messi and Neymar, who sent a shot sailing far above the crossbar in a one-on-one opportunity against keeper Keylor Navas, all could have given Barcelona a much needed second goal in the second half.

Instead, the Catalans (who now have 28 points) let the league leaders (34 points) hang around and paid the price when Madrid defender Sergio Ramos rose up and headed Luka Modric's free-kick past Ter Stegen at the start of stoppage time.

Despite letting an apparent victory slip away, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic chose to look on the bright side.

"We can't beat ourselves up. We had the right idea. We had the match under control," he said after the match.

Sevilla wasted a great chance to close the gap at the top of the table as they lost 1-2 away to Granada, who had started the day bottom and without a win in 13 games.

Andres Pereira and Lomban gave Granada a deserved win with Sevilla's goal coming from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game by Wissam Ben Yedder.

Atletico Madrid also had a chance to close the gap at the top, but failed to break down the defence of an Espanyol side that has now not conceded a goal in five league games.


When Atletico had chances Espanyol goalkeeper, Diego Lopez was on hand to make the save, while at the other end ATletico shot stopper Jan Oblak stopped a one-on-one situation against Leo Baptistao.

Meanwhile Villarreal's poor run of form continued as a dull 0-0 draw away to Leganes prevented them from closing the gap on the top three and Fran Escriba's men have won just one of their last five league games.

Real Madrid lead the standings with 34 points after 14 matches. Barcelona are second with 28. Sevilla are third at 27, followed by Atletico, who are a further two points behind.

IANS