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Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona: Out cast Ousmane Dembele cancel Diego Costa opener and rescue a point for the Catalans

Diego Costa ended a run of 18 games without a goal to put Atletico Madrid ahead against Barcelona but Ousmane Dembele popped up to earn the leaders a precious point.

With Diego Simeone already thinking about taking the tired striker off, Costa rose at the far post to head home Koke’s corner.

He was mobbed by celebrating Atletico Madrid players and almost immediately went down asking to be taken off. It looked like job done for the former Chelsea striker.

But Barcelona had brought on Dembele and the Frenchman converted from Leo Messi’s pass to equalize and keep Barcelona top of the table.

They had dominated the first 20 minutes, matching Atletico Madrid’s four-man midfield but fizzing their passes more quickly and protecting possession far more effectively.

But this was old-school Atletico Madrid defending — deep and not giving an inch. Messi sent a free-kick over and Sergio Roberto wasted a well-worked set-piece by blasting over when he was played in to cross.

The hosts did have one early chance given them by Samuel Umtiti’s misplaced pass but Thomas Lemar wasted it by shoot well wide.

At the other end, Messi won and wasted another free-kick on the edge of the area. Lucas Hernandez was booked for the challenge but Atletico did not pay the price because the kick was uncharacteristically ballooned over by the world’s greatest of the free-kick art.

Atletico Madrid’s best chance came when Santiago Arias played a deep cross to the edge of the six-yard box. There was no Atletico Madrid striker to finish it but Gerard Pique almost did the job for them with a clearance that needed to be dealt with by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Rafinha came on at the restart because of an injury to Sergio Roberto. Neither side had managed a shot on target in the first half. There had been more niggles and dust-ups than clear-cut opportunities and that continued with Diego Costa kicking-out towards Umtiti as both players went down.

Costa had been uninspired in the first half as he chased his first goal in 19 games, but there was one driving run into the corner that at least took the pressure off of Atletico Madrid’s defence.

Suarez was trying his best to do likewise for Barcelona and when he pushed the ball one way and ran the other side of Lucas the defender did well to make a recovering challenge.

At the hour point Griezmann so nearly unlocked the Barcelona defence. The Frenchman ran clear of Jordi Alba. When the full back caught him, Griezmann did well to hold off the challenge and fizz the ball across the six-yard box. Costa was in the right place but could not get ahead Pique who hooked it clear to safety.

MATCH FACTS AND STATS

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Arias, Savic, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis; Koke, Rodri Hernandez, Saul, Lemar (Vitolo 64); Griezmann, Costa (Correa 80)

Subs: Adan, Partey, Kalinic, Gelson Martins, Toni Moya

Goal: Costa 78

Booked: Lucas Hernandez, Rodri Hernandez, Griezmann, Costa

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Cabral, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Roberto (Rafinha 45), Busquets, Vidal (Malcom 85), Arthur (Dembele 80); Messi, Suarez

Subs: Cillessen, Dembele, Lenglet, Munir, Alena

Booked: Busquets, Umtiti.

WATCH HIGHLIGHT

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