Antoine Griezmann’s late goal gives Barcelona a chance to leap Real Madrid for 1st in La Liga

A late strike from Antoine Griezmann in the Madrid derby earned Atletico a draw against their crosstown rivals on Saturday. Just like that, the La Liga title chase became a lot tighter for the Merengues.

Real Madrid entered the derby with a two-point gap and a match in hand on Barcelona. Yes, a draw earned them a point and pushed Real’s lead to three points, but the dropped points opened the door for Barca to leapfrog them in the standings by the day’s end. (Barcelona visit 15th-place Malaga later in the day and have a hefty advantage on Real Madrid in goal difference)

Pepe put Real Madrid on the board to open up the scoring in the second half. That headed effort looked like it would be enough for his side to see off Atletico and collect three precious points, but then Griezmann happened. The Frenchman, whose five league goals against Real Madrid since 2013 are more than any other player, slotted home in the 85th minute to equalize.

It was a tough draw for Real Madrid, but expecting them to just come out and dominate their rivals is foolish. Atletico might not have a shot at the La Liga title, but they’re still Champions League-quality. Real Madrid held the lion’s share of possession in the match and always looked like the bigger threat to score, but credit Atletico for their trademark steadfast defense. The draw didn’t cripple Real Madrid’s title hopes, but it certainly didn’t help their cause.

A congested and trying fixture list was always going to make for a difficult April for Real Madrid, but seeing a lead slip late is a painful start. Now, Barcelona will be licking their chops at the prospect of piling the pressure on their rivals. The result also makes El Clasico later this month all the more pressure-packed.

The chase is on.

MORE FROM FOX SOCCER: