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

Barcelona, Dec 4 (IANS) A late goal by defender Sergio Ramos helped Real Madrid play to a 1-1 draw to maintain their six-point lead over FC Barcelona in the La Liga standings.

The contest at Camp Nou on Saturday got off to an good start and could have seen a penalty called against the hosts in just the third minute for Javier Mascherano’s takedown of Lucas Vazquez in the area, reports Efe.

But suffocating defence soon became the major theme, with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Neymar, Luis Suarez and other attackers not given the room needed to operate effectively.

Barca had the majority of ball possession in the first half but it lacked the strong midfield play.

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

The complexion of the match changed, however, when Suarez headed home a free kick from Neymar in the 53rd minute to give the Catalans a 1-0 lead, and Barca seized further control after 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 an insurance 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 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 Clasico under control,” he said after the match.

–IANS

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