Neymar earns Barcelona draw

Neymar equalised a wonder-strike from Diego Ribas to leave Barcelona and Atletico Madrid's UEFA Champions League quarter-final finely balanced.

Last Updated: 02/04/14 at 09:25

Crucial strike: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi

Crucial strike: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi

Free £50 bet

Daily Offers and Promotions, sign up for a free £50 matched bet

David Villa spurned an early chance in the first leg at Camp Nou and Andres Iniesta's shot at the other end was blocked by Diego Godin before Villa drew a good save from Jose Pinto in first-half stoppage time.

Brazilian forward Diego, who had come on to replace Atletico's injured talisman Diego Costa after half an hour, unleashed an unstoppable drive to put the visitors ahead on 57 minutes.

But compatriot Neymar drew Barcelona level 14 minutes later after a fine pass from Iniesta.

The visitors were clinging on by the end, relying on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make outstanding saves, denying first Iniesta and then Lionel Messi.

Diego Simeone's side's desperation was underlined by the fact six of their players picked up yellow cards, while just two Barca players received cautions.

But the visitors' resolute defending paid off and meant a fourth successive draw in the meetings between the two teams this season to leave both with all to play for in next week's second leg at the Vicente Calderon.

Retiring prematurely

Costa was named in the starting line-up despite retiring prematurely from his side's training session the previous evening, but succumbed to a hamstring injury which is almost certain to rule him out of the return leg in Madrid.

Villa came in for the suspended Raul Garcia and had the first attempt of the night, trying his luck from 30 yards but firing well wide.

The former Barca striker had a clearer opportunity just moments later, receiving the ball after Arda Turan had intercepted Pinto's poor kick, but shot wide of the far post.

Barca had to make their first substitution of the night after just 12 minutes, Gerard Pique struggling after an aerial challenge and forced to come off for 23-year-old Marc Bartra, who shone in a rare moment in the spotlight.

Despite the early openings, the game soon took the same shape of the three cagey encounters between the two sides this season, with Barca taking until 23 minutes to test Courtois, Neymar heading softly into the Belgian's hands.

Their next attempt was by the majestic Iniesta, played in after Messi had danced around Miranda, but Godin threw out a leg to block the shot before it could get to Courtois. Then Davi Alves crossed to Messi, but the Argentinian could not get enough power on his header, and ended the night failing to get on the score-sheet for the first time in six games.

Neymar had a final go for Barca before half-time, his ambitious long-ranger flying just a little high of the crossbar, while Villa tested Pinto at the other end.

Stunning opener

The second half began like the first with little space opening up, so it required a goal out of nothing to break the deadlock. That is what Diego produced when he picked the ball up on the right hand side following a free-kick, beat Xavi then drove the ball from an improbable angle and range into the top corner.

At the other end, Sergio Busquets saw his effort pushed away by Courtois. Messi then tried to head a cross from Alves towards goal but it hit his chest on its way over the bar.

But Barca got their equaliser with 19 minutes remaining when Iniesta split the visitors' defence with an exquisite pass to Neymar inside the area, the Brazilian shooting into the far corner of Courtois' net with one touch.

The goal galvanised the Camp Nou side and rattled the visitors. Just a few minutes later Iniesta went looking for goal, only denied by an inspired leap by Courtois, who finger-tipped the ball out for a corner.

Barca had a near monopoly on possession after the equaliser, but Courtois made one final save of the night to keep out Messi's late free-kick.

Atletico will feel relieved to return to Madrid with the tie evenly balanced, having scored a crucial away goal to boot.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

There are no results at present.

Footer 365

Premier League: Manchester City winger Jesus Navas hungry for more trophies

Jesus Navas believes Manchester City have the quality to win the Premier League and Champions League this season.

Premier League: Wayne Rooney wants Manchester United captaincy and title challenge

Wayne Rooney is keen to be named Man United captain and is confident the team can challenge for the title.

Liverpool's Adam Lallana could miss start of Premier League with knee injury

Adam Lallana looks set to miss the start of the new Premier League season after suffering a knee injury in training.

Mail Box

Are Pre-Season Tours Really A Problem?

Are pre-season tours really a problem? Liverpool went to Australia last summer and it didn't prevent them from having a good season. Plus, thoughts on LvG and keepers...

It Isn't Easy Supporting Spurs, You Know

We have a long mail about the travails of supporting Spurs, plus Friday thoughts on Marko Marin, marketing, victory v beauty, travelling and vanishing sprays...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property