Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Barcelo held 1-1 by Las Palmas in La Liga

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 March 2018 12:00 AM GMT

Las Palmas, March 2: La Liga leaders FC Barcelo stumbled here against UD Las Palmas and had to settle for a 1-1 draw that leaves them with a margin of just five points over second-placed Atletico Madrid in the Spanish football league.

Lionel Messi on Thursday scored a wonderful free-kick in the 21st minute to give the visitors 1-0 lead but Jothan Calleri converted a pelty to pull the hosts level early in the second half. Then Ls Palmas did some desperate defending to earn one point, reports Efe.

Barcelo were under pressure after Atletico demolished Leganes 4-0 to pull within four points of the Catalan powerhouse.

Coach Ernesto Valverde was true to his promise to treat the match on Thursday with Las Palmas with the same seriousness as Sunday’s showdown with Atletico at the Camp Nou stadium.

While defender Gerard Pique and midfielder Ivan Rakitic started the game on the bench, top scorer Luis Suarez — just one yellow card away from a suspension — was in the starting 11 along with Lionel Messi.

Las Palmas, sitting in 18th place with 20 points, took a high line, exposing themselves at the back and forcing their defenders to commit desperation fouls.

Messi gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute on a direct free kick, his first-ever goal in Gran Caria Stadium. He fired to the left top of the box with his left foot.

But as the first half was drawing to a close, referee Mateu Lahoz emerged as a protagonist, declining to pelise Las Palmas keeper Leandro Chichizola when he touched the ball with his hand outside the 18-yard box.

Ruling that the hand ball was not deliberate, Lahoz kept his cards in his pocket.

Early in the second half, he awarded a pelty to Las Palmas after a confusing sequence in front of the Barcelo goal. Without making clear what the infraction was, Lahoz pointed to the spot and Argentine striker Calleri fired to the roof on the right to bring the hosts level in the 48th minute.

As the minutes passed without a response, Valverde turned to his bench, sending in midfielders Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho and, in the fil minutes, winger Ousmane Dembele, in hopes of going home with all three points.

But Las Palmas hung on to secure a draw that both players and fans celebrated as if it were a victory.

Following the draw, 18th placed UD Las Palmas are on 20 points — same as Levante — as they boosted their chances of escaping La Liga’s relegation zone, where the team has languished for 19 consecutive rounds of play.

Meanwhile, in Álava, 14th placed Alaves continued their strong run of form at home with a 1-0 victory over Levante and now are 11 points clear of the relegation zone with a dozen games remaining.

The northern Spanish squad has a seven-game unbeaten streak at home in La Liga since head coach Abelardo took over in December, having garnered 19 out of a possible 21 points over that stretch.

At the Mendizorrotza Stadium in the 29th minute, Alaves had a chance to seize full command of the match when Chema was sent off for a clear foul on Alfonso Pedraza in the area.

A heated argument ensued between members of both teams over the next three minutes, after which captain Manu Garcia failed to convert the pelty kick.

Having been uble to take advantage of a short-handed opponent for nearly 50 minutes, that edge disappeared when Munir El Haddadi was sent off for two yellow cards, one in the first half and the second in the 77th minute.

The home squad filly got its reward in the 90th minute of the contest when defender Victor Laguardia raced toward the goal to get his head on a free kick by Ibai and slot the ball just inside the right upright for a dramatic game-winner. IANS

Next Story