Football: Atletico fail to build on Barcelona slip-up

Sevilla's goalkeeper Antonio Alberto Bastos hugs teammate Fernando Navarro at the end of their match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on Jan 19, 2014. Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move to the top of La Liga after
Sevilla's goalkeeper Antonio Alberto Bastos hugs teammate Fernando Navarro at the end of their match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on Jan 19, 2014. Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move to the top of La Liga after being held 1-1 at home to Sevilla on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move to the top of La Liga after being held 1-1 at home to Sevilla on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014.

Earlier, Lionel Messi's first league start of 2014 could not inspire Barcelona to victory as they could only manage a 1-1 draw away to Levante.

That meant a win would take Atletico two points clear at the top and they appeared on route to victory when David Villa opened the scoring on 18 minutes.

However, the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty when Juanfran pulled Carlos Bacca's jersey 17 minutes from time and Ivan Rakitic coolly converted from the spot.

A point for both the leaders means they now lead third-placed Real Madrid by just one point.

Buoyed by Barcelona's result earlier in the evening, Atletico started brightly and nearly took the lead in spectacular fashion when Diego Costa fired into the side-netting from fully 35 yards.

However, it took just 18 minutes for Diego Simeone's team to make the breakthrough as Diego Godin headed Gabi's corner back into the heart of the area, where Villa found space to fire home his first goal since November.

Sevilla reacted well to going behind and came close to levelling before the break as Coke's in-swinging effort flew just past the post.

Unai Emery's men continued to press after the break but were not able to create a clear-cut opportunity until Juanfran was adjudged to have pulled Bacca to the ground as they jostled at the back post. Rakitic slotted home his ninth goal of the season.

And despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men in the final minute as Alberto Moreno saw red for a late challenge on Raul Garcia, Atletico could not find the goal they needed to take them to the summit.

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