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Saturday 22 October 2016

Messi and Busquets limp off as Atletico hold Barca

European round up

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Barcelona's Lionel Messi leaves the pitch next to coach Luis Enrique. Photo: Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi leaves the pitch next to coach Luis Enrique. Photo: Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis in action. Pic: Reuters
Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic scores the opening goal past Filipe Luis and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Photo: Getty Images
Koke Resurreccion of Atletico Madrid competes for the ball with Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic. Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets both limped off at the Nou Camp last night as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid failed to take full advantage of Real Madrid dropping their first points of the season.

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A header from Ivan Rakitic just before half-time gave Barcelona the lead which their first-half performance deserved - however, things were to go wrong after the break.

First, Sergio Busquets was forced off six minutes after the interval and he was followed soon after by Lionel Messi, who looked to have tweaked his groin muscle before going off just before the hour.

It proved a crucial couple of minutes as the visitors equalised two minutes later when Angel Correa capitalised on some loose Barcelona defending.

Earlier, Madrid's 100pc start to the La Liga season came to an end as they drew 1-1 at home to Villarreal, halting their joint record run of 16 straight league wins.

Captain Bruno Soriano gave Villarreal the lead on the stroke of half-time with a boldly chipped penalty after Sergio Ramos had handled in the area, although the Real captain made amends by heading in the equaliser in the 48th minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to action after missing the 2-0 win at Espanyol and spurned two early chances, firing over the bar and heading at goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, who also had to punch away a close-range header from Karim Benzema.

Despite these chances, Real lacked intensity and fluidity and allowed Villarreal opportunities at the other end.

In Italy, champions Juventus returned to the top of Serie A with a 4-0 home rout of Cagliari, while former leaders Napoli dropped to second after being held to a goalless draw at Genoa.

In France, Mario Balotelli continued his flying start to life in Ligue 1 with a brace as Nice thrashed Monaco to leapfrog the early front-runners at the top of the table with a 4-0 victory.

Irish Independent

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