Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Lionel Messi suffers groin injury in nervy draw
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 22/09/16 6:22am
Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday in a game which saw Lionel Messi brought off with a groin injury.
After a cagey opening, Ivan Rakitic gave Barcelona the lead with a fine glancing header on 41 minutes, but both Messi and Sergio Busquets were forced off with injuries after the break, with Barcelona confirming after the game that Messi would be out for three weeks with a groin strain.
Atletico equalised just minutes after Messi's departure through substitute Angel Correa, who capitalised on Javier Mascherano's slip to slot the ball into the bottom corner after the hour mark.
The result leaves Barcelona in fourth place, three points behind leaders Real Madrid, who drew 1-1 at home to Villarreal earlier on Wednesday, while Atletico are a point behind in fourth.
Barcelona struggled for chances in a predictably tense first half, the first opportunity falling to Messi, who forced a decent save out of Jan Oblak from just outside the area.
During a rare Atletico attack, Yannick Carrasco's curling effort towards the bottom corner was beaten away well by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, before Oblak did the same for Atletico at the other end from Neymar's shot.
Barcelona broke the deadlock with four minutes of the first half remaining through Rakitic, who latched onto Andres Iniesta's deep left-wing cross to glance a header past Oblak and into the bottom right corner from 10 yards.
Atletico came out in the second half improved, Antoine Griezmann forcing a decent save out of Ter Stegen with a low drive, before Messi was taken off holding his groin just before the hour mark after a challenge with Diego Godin.
It was Messi's Argentine compatriot Correa who brought the visitors level with his first action of the game just a minute after coming on, steering the ball in off the left post from 18 yards after Mascherano had slipped in front of him.
Neymar again forced a good save out of Oblak from range with a curling effort, and Oblak was at his best again in the final stages, beating the ball away from a near post effort from the Brazilian once more.
Gerard Pique then glanced Neymar's free-kick cross inches wide of Oblak's post, but it was Atletico who nearly won it in the final minutes, Godin seeing his powerful header tipped superbly over the bar by Ter Stegen.