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  Espanyol hold Barcelona

Espanyol hold Barcelona

AFP
Published : Jan 3, 2016, 10:38 pm IST
Updated : Jan 3, 2016, 10:38 pm IST

Atletico’s win against Levante takes them to top of table in Spanish League

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, fights for the ball against Espanyol's Hernan Perez. (Photo: AP)
 Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, fights for the ball against Espanyol's Hernan Perez. (Photo: AP)

Atletico’s win against Levante takes them to top of table in Spanish League

Barcelona dropped points for the third time in four league games as they were held 0-0 by local rivals Espanyol in a heated Catalan derby on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid moved two points clear of Barca at the top of the table, having played a game more, thanks to substitute Thomas Partey’s late winner to edge past Levante 1-0.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hit the woodwork for Barcelona either side of half-time, but Espanyol’s physical approach was rewarded with a first point against Barca in eight matches.

“The result in general was fair based on what both teams created, although I thought we had a lot of chances,” said Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

Espanyol committed 22 fouls despite a lenient approach from referee Jose Luis Gonzalez, but Luis Enrique refused to blame the officials for a stuttering start to the new year.

“Football is a contact sport,” he added.“That is why we have a referee there to control the game.”The first of three meetings between the sides in 10 days got off to a frenetic start with Espanyol forcing Barca onto the back foot.

Their best chance came from a set-piece, though, when Alvaro Gonzalez’s header was brilliantly stopped by Claudio Bravo and Gerard Pique hooked the ball to safety off the line.

Barca’s star front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar combined for 137 of a record 180 goals in 2015, but were unable to break the deadlock.

Location: Spain, Madrid