Soccer PIX: Barca drop points; Atalanta continue winning run

IMAGES from football matches played across leagues in Europe on Sunday.


Barcelona let three points slip from their grasp at Osasuna as a late stunner from Chimy Avila secured a 2-2 draw for the hosts in La Liga on Sunday.

Deprived of seven key players through injury, Barca coach Xavi Hernandez was forced to turn to his youngsters and 19-year-olds Nico Gonzalez and Abdessamad Ezzalzouli both scored as the visitors twice took the lead.

But Osasuna levelled first through defender David Garcia and then almost in stoppage time, through a low shot from Avila from outside the box that deflected in off Samuel Umtiti’s right foot.

Barcelona are eighth in the table, still outside the European qualification places and 15 points off leaders Real Madrid.

Xavi had told reporters on Saturday that he was worried after their 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich which saw them exit the Champions League at the group stage for the first time in almost two decades.

He said the club needed “a reset”, to create a new Barcelona.

Yet their performance on Sunday in Pamplona was more of the same, as his team continued to struggle to create opportunities and to keep their opponents at bay.

“We are in a negative spiral and we need to find a way to break it,” Xavi told reporters.

“This draw is not enough. When we scored the second goal we should have taken control but we didn’t and that made us suffer.”

Barca opened the scoring in the 12th minute when 17-year-old Gavi found Nico with a precise long through-ball that broke Osasuna’s defensive line and left him all alone inside the area to score.

Osasuna responded immediately as Garcia connected with a perfect header that went in close to Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s right post.

It then became a nervy encounter with few clear opportunities.

Barcelona’s second goal arrived from a counter-attack, created when Osasuna’s players were complaining about a handball from Sergio Busquets.

Ousmane Dembele sprinted between the hosts’ disrupted defence and crossed for Ezzalzouli to volley home powerfully.

Osasuna never gave up, however, and found the equaliser with an Avila effort that left Barca stunned.

Atalanta come from behind to make it six Serie A wins in a row

Atalanta made it six wins in a row in Serie A after coming from behind to earn a 2-1 victory at Hellas Verona on Sunday.

The home side had much the better of the opening stages and edged into a deserved lead when Giovanni Simeone, eldest son of Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, netted his 12th league goal of the season in the 22nd minute from a tight angle.

Atalanta responded well, with Mario Pasalic denied by the post before Aleksey Miranchuk converted from close range in the 37th minute to level.

After the break, the visitors stayed in the ascendancy and completed the turnaround in the 62nd minute thanks to Teun Koopmeiners’s deflected strike.

Verona tried again, but Simeone’s effort that clipped the post was the closest they got to claiming a point as Atalanta held on to climb to third in the standings above Napoli, who play Empoli later on Sunday, while Verona drop to 10th.

Dolberg, Atal earn precious win for Nice at Rennes

Nice moved within one point of second-placed Stade Rennais in Ligue 1 when they beat them 2-1 away in a pulsating game on Sunday.

Christophe Galtier’s side were in control after goals by Kasper Dolberg and Youcef Atal had put them 2-0 up, only for Rennes to reduce the deficit through Benjamin Bourigeaud and set up a thrilling finale.

Rennes have 31 points from 18 games with Nice in third place on 30 while leaders Paris St Germain, who host Monaco later on Sunday, have 42 points from 17 matches.

Champions Lille are 11th on 25 points after a goalless home draw against 13th-placed Olympique Lyonnais.

At the Roazhon Park, Nice went ahead on 19 minutes when Dolberg converted a penalty after Dante was fouled by Baptiste Santamaria.

Two minutes later, Nayef Aguerd’s header hit the post as Rennes pushed for an equaliser but they suffered a major setback when striker Martin Terrier left the pitch sick to be replaced by Kamaleen Sulemana.

Dolberg had two more chances before the break but it was Atal who doubled the advantage six minutes into the second half with a superb strike into the roof of the net after being set up by the Denmark forward.

Dolberg came close again before Bourigeaud gave the hosts a lifeline when he beat Walter Benitez with a diving header.

The momentum swung and Rennes piled on the pressure but Benitez produced two superb saves to preserve the visitors’ lead.

Fuerth secure first Bundesliga home win

Bottom club Greuther Fuerth scored their first ever Bundesliga home win and their first victory in any competition this season with a 1-0 success over Union Berlin on Sunday.

Havard Nielsen scored the winner in the 56th minute after Union failed to clear a corner, giving the hosts their first win of the campaign on matchday 15 after 13 losses and a draw.

It was Fuerth’s first Bundesliga home win after 23 failed attempted with 18 defeats and five draws.

The Bavarians had set a record last week with their 12th consecutive league loss in a 7-1 demolition by Bayer Leverkusen.

Union, bidding to break into the top four with a win, dominated the final 20 minutes but despite a flurry of chances had to settle for sixth place on 23 points.

Fuerth are still bottom on four.

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