Athletic keeper Unai Simon held Real, who open their Champions League campaign against Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, at bay until Isco headed in Gareth Bale’s assist after the hour.The draw put Julen Lopetegui’s men on 10 points, two adrift of Barcelona with Atletico Madrid also slipping back in the La Liga title race by drawing at home to Eibar.Seven points is now the gap between Atletico and Barca, who were in danger of tripping up themselves when Aritz Elustondo put Real Sociedad in front at Anoeta.But the hosts missed a series of excellent chances and paid the price, as two goals in three minutes from Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele clinched a hard-fought 2-1 win.“The league is defined by these kind of games,” Suarez said afterwards. “Last year we also came back from 2-0 after many years without winning here. The reaction says a lot about this team.”Atletico rallied too, Borja Garces equalising with virtually the last kick of the game, but there were no celebrations at the Wanda Metropolitano.Garces’ strike was enough only to rescue a 1-1 draw for Diego Simeone’s side, who had looked on course for defeat when Eibar’s Sergi Enrich bundled home in the 87th minute.Borja Garces celebrated after scoring in the last seconds for Atletico Madrid but it was only enough to secure a home draw with Eibar © AFP/File / Benjamin CREMELBarcelona might easily have dropped points too had their opponents been more clinical.Mikel Oyarzabal and Theo Hernandez both could have made it 2-0 after half-time but the former blazed over and the latter was denied by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.Within minutes, they were behind, as two crosses caused havoc in Real Sociedad’s defence, with Suarez and Dembele perfectly placed to pounce.Barca coach Ernesto Valverde had made the surprise decision to omit Sergio Busquets from his starting line-up, presumably with Tuesday’s Champions League opener against PSV Eindhoven in mind.But it was testament to the hosts’ performance that Busquets was called upon in the second period after Philippe Coutinho had also been introduced at half-time.“In the first half they closed us down well but Philippe coming on in the second half helped changed the dynamics,” Suarez said.Simeone might also have liked to keep one eye on their Champions League game against Monaco on Tuesday, but a victory was much-needed following defeat to Celta Vigo two weeks ago.Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa, however, were both sloppy in the final third and Eibar might even have scored earlier, twice denied by the woodwork.It means Atleti have now recorded their worst league start since 2009.“I would worry if we had not created those chances to score,” Simeone said. “The team also showed a reaction after their goal. We continued to push forward and managed to take a point.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Luis Suarez scored the first of Barcelona’s two goals in three minutes © AFP / GABRIEL BOUYSMADRID, Spain, Sep 16 – Barcelona came from behind to beat Real Sociedad on Saturday as Real Madrid lost ground in La Liga after a 1-1 stalemate at Athletic Bilbao.Real, unbeaten after three games, fell behind to Iker Muniain’s 32nd-minute goal on a counter-attack.
And Tite blamed the pitch for the lack of flowing football from his struggling side.“There is room for improvement,” he said. “But that’s also possible when you play passes on a good ground.“All the players asked me to complain about it. It’s absurd at such a high level match to have a ground that is so hard to pass the ball on.“We needed three touches to pass the ball forward. It’s absurd to have such bad quality. It’s inconceivable anywhere in the world to have such a bad ground.”The pitch in Porto Alegre had already come in for harsh criticism from some of the tournament’s leading lights, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez of Uruguay.It will also host the second semi-final, although Brazil won’t be involved in that.“Scouts honor, I shouldn’t make excuses: if we don’t finish chances then we don’t. But I’m telling you that we had to take three touches to pass the ball and you need to think fast,” continued Tite, whose side were jeered by the home fans at half-time — the third time in four matches they’d been booed by a demanding public.– ‘Gives confidence’ –Barcelona midfielder Arthur, who struggled to impose himself on the match, said this result would boost Brazil in the long run.“This qualification gives us the confidence we need. There will be tough games ahead, sometimes the ball won’t go in, but we’re centered, our heads are in the right place,” he said.“Now we need to relax and concentrate on the next opponents.”Following the goalless 90 minutes, the quarter-final tie went straight to a penalty shoot-out — extra-time will only be used if needed in the final.Goalkeeper Alisson saved the very first spot kick by Gustavo Gomez.And while Paraguay were back on level terms when Roberto Firmino fired wide, Derlis Gonzalez did so too immediately afterwards, allowing Gabriel Jesus to thump home the winning kick.“We have to keep working hard. This team deserved today’s result,” said Alisson.“It was a draw but we were a team that didn’t just want to play on the counter-attack,” he added in a clear reference to Paraguay’s tactics.The underdogs, who only scraped into the quarter-finals on goal difference having failed to win a single group game, could do little else, particularly after Balbuena’s dismissal.“We created a lot of chances, we hit the post the (Paraguay) goalkeeper (Roberto Fernandez) pulled off miracles but the fans got behind us and didn’t stop to the end,” said Arthur.Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo praised his players for having come so close to pulling off another famous victory in such difficult circumstances.They also produced dogged defensive efforts in 2011 and 2015 before beating much fancied Brazil on penalties in the Copa America quarter-finals.But it wasn’t to be this time.“I’m very proud of our performance this evening. We could have been granted a heroic, wonderful victory on penalties but that doesn’t diminish how pleased I am with my players,” said Berizzo.“There’s a competitiveness that stands out in this team. It’s up to us, it doesn’t matter who the opponents are, they will only challenge what you’re capable of.“My players convinced me tonight that they can beat anyone.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Brazil’s coach Tite slammed the conditions of the pitch during the Copa America quarter-final match against Paraguay at the Gremio Arena stadium © AFP / Luis ACOSTAPORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, Jun 28 – Fuming Brazil coach Tite raged at the state of the Gremio Arena pitch after the Copa America hosts squeezed past dogged Paraguay on penalties to reach the semi-finals.Brazil played more than 40 minutes with a numerical advantage following the sending off of Fabian Balbuena but couldn’t find a route past Paraguay’s defensive fortress, needing penalties to progress after a 0-0 draw.