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Primera División

  • May 11, 2014
  • • 1:00 PM
  • • Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, Elche
  • Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
  • • Attendance: 33069

Elche 0-0 Barcelona: Catalans miss chance to gain ground on Atletico

Gerardo Martino's side was held Sunday evening, as was Atletico Madrid, meaning the title race will go down to the final day meeting between the sides.

Barcelona missed the chance to gain ground on Atletico Madrid in the race for La Liga after being held to a 0-0 draw by Elche, meaning it must beat Atletico Madrid on the final day of the season to retain its title.

Gerardo Martino's side went into Sunday's game three points behind leaders Atletico and would have grabbed the three points were it not for an inspired goalkeeping performance from Manu, who made fine saves to tip away Andres Iniesta's volley, Lionel Messi's free kick and another close-range effort from Barcelona's talisman.

Elche rarely threatened and only had long-range efforts to show for all its hard work, but a resolute defense that has only conceded twice at home in 2014 held firm.

Barca earned a reprieve as Atleti failed to win against Malaga, which means the Catalans will retain the title if they beat Diego Simeone's men next week.

The result gave Elche the point needed to mathematically confirm its survival.

The home side was without the suspended Alberto Botia and would have been behind after 13 minutes, but Iniesta - on his 30th birthday - saw a sumptuous volley tipped onto the bar by Manu.

But Elche boasts a fearsome home record, having gone unbeaten on its own patch since December, and it went close to breaking the deadlock itself after 22 minutes, but Garry Rodrigues' cushioned volley was wild.

Messi weaved away from the opposition a minute later but saw his shot palmed away by Manu, who then saved Alexi Sanchez's near-post header with ease.

Manu produced another wonderful save before halftime when Messi's cross evaded everybody, but the goalkeeper got down to his right to tip behind and also thwarted a long-range effort from Alexis.

The personal battle between Messi and Manu resumed within two minutes of the second half when the Argentine sprung the offside trap, but the goalkeeper stood for as long as he could and blocked the shot.

Elche's first attack of note in the second period came after 57 minutes when Carles Gil cut in from the right but his shot was too high to trouble Jose Manuel Pinto, and Rodrigues did the same from the other flank, with the same result.

The best chance of the second half fell to Dani Alves, 10 minutes later, when Pedro put in a delightful low cross but the Brazilian could not get a touch six yards out.

Martino's side could have seen their hopes go up in smoke had Rodrigues kept his close-range effort down as Elche broke at pace late, but the point was enough to take the La Liga race into the final day.

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