La Liga: Barcelona hit Atleti late, but lose perfect record

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Barcelona lost its perfect Spanish league record and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid with a late equalizer by Luis Suarez on Saturday.

Suarez scored with a header from close range in the 82nd minute to leave Barcelona five points ahead of Real Madrid, which defeated Getafe 2-1 with a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Atletico contained Lionel Messi and was in control of the game until Suarez found the net after being ineffective for most of the match.

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead at their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the first half.

The draw left Atletico in third place, six points behind Barcelona, which won its first seven league matches.

Sevilla dropped to fourth place, also six points off the lead, after losing at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Atletico was looking to win the first high-profile game of the league and establish itself as a contender beside Barcelona and Madrid.

Barcelona, which had outscored opponents 23-2, controlled possession but it was Atletico which was able to create the most significant opportunities. Antoine Griezmann had two clear chances denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early.

Atletico did a good job stopping Messi, after his starring role to put Argentina in the World Cup. He has 14 goals in 11 matches with Barcelona but was shut out at the Metropolitano. A second-half free kick hit the post.

Suarez, who was also coming off a long trip with Uruguay, struggled until jumping between Atletico defenders to head in a cross by substitute Sergi Roberto.

Two weeks after playing behind closed doors to protest the Spanish government’s moves to halt Catalonia’s independence referendum, Barcelona was met with Spanish flags, and outspoken defender Gerard Pique was loudly jeered by the local fans.

Ronaldo had been mostly subdued for Madrid until scoring the 85th-minute winner at Alfonso Perez Coliseum in southern Madrid.

After a perfect long pass by Isco, Ronaldo let the ball bounce and fired in for his first league goal of the season.

“We know that when we need Cristiano, he is always there for us,” Madrid left back Marcelo said.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid with a great run into the area, getting past a defender with a quick touch before sending a low shot into the far corner. It was also his first league goal. The French striker was returning from injury.

Striker Jorge Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half. Replays showed Molina was offside.

Getafe, which had a few chances to equalize in the final minutes, also conceded late goals in home losses to Sevilla and Barcelona. It dropped to 14th in the 20-team standings.

“We can’t allow this to keep happening,” Molina said of the late goals. “Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed only on defense, maybe we could have pressed a little bit more.”

Madrid got the win even though coach Zinedine Zidane couldn’t count on several regulars following the international break.