What Is Jalen McCleskey’s Ceiling As a Sophomore?

first_imgI’m about to float an insane theory that I realize is an insane theory, but I cannot stop myself from floating it anyway. Jalen McCleskey is going to be better in 2016 for two reasons:He is older and weighs moreHe switched to No. 1Oklahoma State’s history of offensive players wearing No. 1 in the Mike Gundy Era is not necessarily lengthy, but it is impressive. For the last few years, Ra’Shaad Samples has worn the number which didn’t amount to much, but just before him it was Joe Randle and Dez Bryant. Pretty solid company. The number just looks slick on the field. Kevin Peterson wore it well on defense.I remember Dez’s freshman year talking to some buddies and asking them what number they wanted Dez to wear. Before I could even finish the question, my buddy Sheets just screams, “he has to wear No. 1!!”Look good play good. I don’t know, but I do know that McCleskey has become the sort of underrated offensive weapon on this team. We focus so much on James Washington and the running back situation and Barry Sanders and Marcell Ateman’s injury that we forget about the guy who did stuff like this as a freshman last year.“We have to find ways for him to touch the ball,” said Mike Gundy recently. “He is explosive. He is competitive. He is a year into it now. This year’s [offense] could be a little more specific by player than what we have been in the last 10 years. Meaning that, we may have certain guys skill wise that are able to execute certain plays that we need to try and get those called to get the ball to certain guys in order to give us the best chance to be successful on offense.”That’s probably a good idea. McCleskey, who is up over 20 pounds (hashtag Glass), only had 409 all-purpose yards in 2015, but he also only touched the ball 33 times on offense. I think that probably doubles this year. At least. McCleskey is explosive and can run away, and he’s the rare sophomore with 13 games under his belt.Awesome photo here after Jalen McCleskey’s punt return TD. (via @osuathletics) pic.twitter.com/hQUS3eEGcx— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 1, 2015“Well, he is a good player,” said Gundy of McCleskey’s pedigree (his father played in the NFL). “It is like anything else, horse racing and whatever.”Pause. The man with the mullet said “horse racing and whatever” when talking about maybe his most dynamic player. Amazing.“The history says that if their pedigree is good, then there’s a good chance that that can continue during their career here,” said Gundy. “Not always, but it gives you a better chance. We invest a lot of time in what kind of people they are, how they treat their moms, what kind of respect they have for just the general things in society I think we are lacking as a group maybe in this country. We look at that and they certainly have to be athletic enough to play here and then if they have good pedigree, that makes the stock go up even more.”Receivers coach Kasey Dunn echoed Gundy’s praise for McCleskey in all facets in the spring.“The guy that’s shown some speed is (Jalen) McCleskey,” said Dunn. “He’s doing a great job out there. That little turkey will block his butt off too. He’s getting it done and I’m happy with where we are and I’m looking forward to the next practice.”The little turkey racehorse who will ball in a new number this fall. I’m fired up to watch him. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

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Perrish Cox To Sign With Seattle Seahawks

first_imgIt appears that former Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox has found another NFL home with the Seattle Seahawks.Seahawks will sign veteran CB Perrish Cox to a contract for 2017. He was in SEA briefly in ’13. With Shead ACL, could play key role.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 18, 2017Earlier this season, Cox was released by the Tennessee Titans last November after two years with the franchise after ineffective play — possibly due to injury — and with the Titans’ defense ranking 25th against the pass.This is the former All-American’s second stint with the Seahawks. Cox was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010 and has also served two different tours with the San Francisco 49ers.After being released from Tennessee two months ago, Cox posted the following statement on Instagram.On to the next chapter, my last chapter has ended with the same smile it started with, I have everything to smile about, and I mean everything! When you can say your living your dreams and wishes, no need to frown for nothing and no one! Thanks to the Titans organization for the opportunity and brotherhood you helped me form, but with that being said, on to the next.Here are his career statistics: While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

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Spring Preview: Look For These Receivers To Make a Splash

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. I’m sure no other Big 12 offensive coordinators are feeling sorry for Yurcich.Dillon Stoner – Freshman (RS)Stoner and Mason Rudolph combined for all 29 of the Cowboys’ passing touchdowns last season. Stoner just had one. But the true freshman did earn immediate playing time after an impressive fall camp.Unfortunately, Stoner only appeared in four games due to a leg injury. So the spring game will give Cowboy fans a chance to see him in action for the first time since last year’s Big 12 opener against Baylor.Stoner may be one of the most versatile players on the team. He did it all at Jenks High School and was the No. 1 rate receiver out of Oklahoma for the 2016 class.We have been told that Oklahoma State will list him as a redshirt freshman.Tyrell Alexander – Freshman (RS)Alexander is a former four-star athlete out of Lancaster, Tex. He’s had a redshirt year to learn the playbook and to build up on his 6-3 frame under Rob Glass’ tutelage. He will be fun to watch and could be the Cowboys’ outside threat of the future.Alexander is another big-play threat that can should get a chance to shine not just in the spring game but may crack the rotation this fall. Spring practice starts next Monday, but you can bet that Mike Yurcich is salivating trying to predict which new wide receiver(s) will emerge as the next James Washington.The Cowboys, who are already loaded in established talent at wideout, have a gaggle of young and talented playmakers to break in. Two of these guys, OSU fans have yet to see in orange.Here are three receivers that should make a splash this spring and beyond.The below-listed class designations apply to the 2017 football season.Tyron Johnson – Sophomore (RS)With all the hype coming from practice and the grandiose Hall-of-Fame comparisons from our pod, I’m predicting Tyron Johnson will be responsible for at least a 10 percent increase in spring game attendance.The former LSU Tiger sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules which would have made this year a perfect one for Johnson step into a starting role. But with the unfortunate injury that held Marcell Ateman out last year, the receiver pool becomes even more top-heavy.last_img read more

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Look: Brandon Weeden’s OSU-Themed Golf Clubs

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden may not be teeing it up in Augusta this weekend but wherever he does, he’ll be playing in style.Whether he’s watching the Masters from Houston or back in Oklahoma, I’ll bet he gets a living-room practice swing or two in with these beauties.last_img read more

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Oklahoma State Lands Third OL Commit in Hunter Woodard

first_imgJosh Henson is showing why he was a slam dunk hire as OSU’s next offensive line coach. It appears that the former ace recruiter at Missouri still knows how to close a deal and he is already close to filling out his 2018 recruiting class.A couple of months after a National Signing Day in which the Cowboys came up empty — signing zero high school OL prospects — Henson has landed three offensive linemen commitments for the 2018 class — Hunter Anthony, Bryce Bray and now Hunter Woodard.I’m extremely excited to announce my commitment to Oklahoma State!?⚪️? @CoachGundy @Coach_Henson pic.twitter.com/dZYOwSgggK— Hunter Woodard (@HunterWoodard18) April 18, 2017 Woodard hails from Tuscola, Illinois where the 6-foot-5, 296-pound tackle has earned all-conference honors. The three-star prospect spoke with Rivals.com about his pledge.“I just feel that Oklahoma State is simply the best place for me,” Woodard told Rivals. “They have great tradition, they are always a highly ranked program and are always playing in bowl games. Oklahoma State is just big time football. I really get along great with all of the coaches at Oklahoma State and between the relationships, the facilities and the entire program everything is just top notch. I just felt like I couldn’t do any better than Oklahoma State.”According to Woodard, he was sold not only by OSU’s facilities but by his connection with Henson.“The visit I made to Oklahoma State really blew me away,” Woodard said. “The offensive line coach Josh Henson and I have a similar background and personality and it’s just a great fit for me. It’s hard to describe just how amazing everything was at Oklahoma State.“It’s truly the best of everything you could ask for. I’m just extremely happy.”Woodard also holds offers from Illinois, Syracuse, Wyoming and Minnesota. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

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100 Days of Summer: Get to Know No. 91 DeQuinton Osborne

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. As we continue our summer-long countdown of Oklahoma State’s roster, we focus today on a big-time transfer who’s already made a big impact at OSU.How he got to OSUA three-star defensive tackle out of Grand Prairie, Texas (South Grand Prairie HS), Osborne spent one redshirt year at Missouri before he voluntarily left the program. He spent the next two years at Kilgore JC where he quickly made a name as one of the more sought-after junior college prospects in the country.Osborne eventually signed of letter of intent to play at Baylor but with Art Briles’ dismissal, he was released from any ties to the university. OSU D-line coach Joe Bob Clements saw his chance to add quality depth, and Osborne chose to come to Stillwater.What he’s done in StillwaterOsborne made an immediate impact upon arrival in 2016. He played in 11 games and was a key part of the defensive tackle rotation. At 6-foot and 305 pounds, Osborne is a load. But what jumps off the tape most is his athleticism.He showcased that in this perfect play against Kansas. He drops back into the lane of this ill-advised pass, makes the play and then tiptoes the sideline before obliterating 5-foot-10, 200-pound Jayhawk running back Taylor Martin.Osborne recorded 12 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two QB hurries and that memorable interception.Role in 2017With the departure of mainstay starters Vincent Taylor and Mote Maile, Osborne will likely have the opportunity to earn a starting role. With Mike Gundy’s prediction of hockey-like line changes, the Cowboys will rotate at least two deep. Expect to see a lot of Osborne, even with the depth the Cowboys enjoy.Noteworthy Stats and highlightsRecorded three tackles, 2.5 sacks and a QB hurry against Iowa State in 2016. That, and of course the aforementioned “Rock Chalk makes a poor road block” sequence.last_img read more

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Where OSU Football Decommitments Are Now (Part 2)

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Part 1 of our series covering where OSU football decommitments have landed through the years included the likes of three 4-star receivers flipping elsewhere and enjoying successful careers, but part 2—the final part, for now—might be even more difficult to thumb through as the wounds are still fairly fresh.Here’s where football recruits who decommitted from OSU from 2015 to 2018 landed and how their young careers have fared.2015Ronald Jones, 4-star running back: After hanging on to the commitment of McKinney North standout Ronald Jones throughout the football season, the four-star standout had second thoughts late in the process after USC and Notre Dame came calling. He backed away from OSU in December before signing day and committed to USC at the Under Armour All-American game the same day OSU rolled over Washington in the Cactus Bowl in 2015. Jones has 2,069 rushing yards through two seasons and is slated to start for the Trojans in 2017.AdChoices广告Kenneth Edison-McGruder, 3-star safety: McGruder committed to OSU in the summer before signing day but decommitted following an offer and visit from Nebraska. A month later, McGruder made an official visit to OSU and re-committed to the Cowboys, where he’s been in the fold since. McGruder has played spot duty at safety but has switched to linebacker, and shows good promise as a contributor in 2017.Jaylon Lane, 3-star cornerback: Lane was a four-star recruit at the time he was committed to OSU and appeared next in line to replace Justin Gilbert, but he decommitted from OSU after the school pulled his scholarship following an incident at school in which he threw a calculator and overturned tables during class in a temper tantrum. Lane went the JUCO route, instead, and is set to make his Division I debut next season with Texas Tech.Joshua Jones, 3-star offensive tackle: Houston offensive lineman Joshua Jones pulled a fast one on signing day by flipping from Gundy to Tom Herman in Houston after a six-month long commitment to the Pokes. Herman sold him on staying home and leading the H-Town movement, and has been a steady contributor for the Cougars, starting in all 13 games last season.2016Tyrell Alexander, 3-star receiver: Like the aforementioned Edison-McGruder, Alexander had a difficult time deciding on his destination. He originally committed during the spring game in 2015, backed away from OSU in the summer, then re-committed in November of the same year. He stayed loyal despite a late offer from Oregon. Alexander redshirted last season and has a high upside as a speedy receiver after transitioning from high school quarterback at Lancaster.Tyrell Alexander could take on an expanded role in 2017. [PFB]Nick Starkel, 3-star quarterback: Like Alexander, Starkel committed early in the process but had a lackluster senior season that had OSU cooling on the now Texas A&M Aggie. Starkel decommitted after preferred walk-on quarterback Nyc Burns joined the fold, in part, I believe, because Burns’ elite high school production scared him off. Starkel hasn’t been a factor in Aggieville but could compete for playing time next season.Jonathan Marshall, 3-star defensive end: Of all the decommitments, Marshall’s was the most damaging. The three-star defensive end was locked in with OSU but a late official visit to Arkansas changed his mind. He later decommitted on Twitter by saying that Fayetteville is “where it’s at.” He’s been a bit player in Arkansas thus far.Ryan McCollum, 3-star offensive lineman: McCollum was the first in a long line of offensive linemen who later committed to Texas A&M under coach Greg Adkins. He redshirted last season.2017Levi Draper, 4-star linebacker: Draper decommitted from OSU shortly after a Bedlam bludgeoning and committed to the Sooners, but his original commitment led some to believe he committed to the Pokes in spite because of OU’s lack of early interest in him.Levi Draper went from a Cowboy to a Sooner.Adrian Wolford, 3-star offensive lineman: Wolford decommitted from OSU and signed with Texas A&M.Derek Kerstetter, 3-star offensive lineman: Kerstetter decommitted from OSU and later committed and signed with Texas after late interest from the Longhorns.Dan Moore, 3-star offensive lineman: Moore decommitted from OSU in December, and committed to Texas A&M after the Aggies pulled the trigger with a late offer.Nelson Mbanasor, 3-star defensive end: Mbanasor backed away from his OSU pledge to join Texas Tech.Tyon Merchant, 3-star cornerback: OSU cooled on Merchant in recruiting and he later ended up signing with Sam Houston State.Spencer Misko, 3-star tight end: Like Merchant, OSU cooled on Misko late in the process and shifted their attention elsewhere. Kansas State signed him in February as a defensive end.Ty Thomas, 3-star safety: The son of former Texas Tech safety Bart Thomas, Ty had a change of heart in the process and signed with Arizona State. He was originally the first pledge of OSU’s 2017 class.Tyler Henderson, 3-star tight end: Henderson flipped from OSU to Baylor late in the process last cycle, probably because Baylor has a long track record of integrating tight ends into its offense.2018So far, so good. I can think of only one explanation.Mike Gundy hair update: Full-blown American Glory. #okstate ?? pic.twitter.com/9fxZSrItFU— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) July 5, 2017last_img read more

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Videos: Wudtee, Brown, Green Preview 2017 Season

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Our final batch of 2017 Media Day videos includes a random collection of players: QB Keondre Wudtee, cowboy back Keenen Brown and cornerback A.J. Green. All three were solid and had intriguing perspectives on the season. I’m particularly interested in Green as he figures to factor in heavily to Oklahoma State’s success on defense this season. Mike Gundy noted in his presser on Saturday that he has a lot of confidence in his young corners, and Green is among them.Hope you guys enjoy the vids.AdChoices广告last_img read more

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Report: Barcelona 6 Girona 1

first_imgBarcelona 6 Girona 1: Suarez treble and Messi masterclass settle Catalan clash Dom Farrell Last updated 1 year ago 05:42 25/2/2018 LionelMessi - cropped Getty Images Girona led through Portu at Barcelona but Luis Suarez’s hat-trick, a Lionel Messi double and Philippe Coutinho’s strike turned it around. Lionel Messi dazzled on his way to another career record as Luis Suarez hit a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 6-1 demolition of Girona.Messi notched a superb brace and has now scored against 36 opponents in Spain’s top flight – more than any other player in the competition’s history.Ninth-placed Girona have made waves in their debut LaLiga season and Pablo Machin’s side drew first blood at Camp Nou through Portu, the forward adding to goals against Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia this term. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Barca’s response was brilliant, with Messi running through his full repertoire to put their Catalan neighbours in their place and move on to 30 in all competitions this season.A 10-point lead over Atletico Madrid – who face a tricky trip to Sevilla on Sunday – was essentially secured by half-time, but Philippe Coutinho spectacular first league strike for the Blaugrana and Suarez’s treble gave the home faithful further reason to revel.It was the first time Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele were named in the same starting XI by Ernesto Valverde, but there is little doubt over who remains the master.36 – Lionel Messi has now scored against more different teams than any other player in La Liga history, surpassing Raul Gonzalez and Aritz Aduriz (35). Genie. pic.twitter.com/zjEPCuHAVU— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 24, 2018Ivan Rakitic picked the wrong moment to get involved in the showboating spirit of Barcelona’s all-star line-up when his ill-advised backheel led to Girona’s third-minute opener.Girona scythed forward on the break and, although Aday Benitez appeared to have overrun the ball, hesitation between Barca centre-back Samuel Umtiti and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen allowed Portu to steal in and finish well from a narrow angle.The home side responded instantly – Messi rolling a typically perfect throughball for Suarez to slot home.The Argentinian superstar soon clicked into virtuoso mode with some sumptuous passing and, when Suarez returned the favour of his earlier assist, Bernardo Espinosa scampered back to head Messi’s chip off the line.Bono’s efforts were not so robust after half an hour as Messi twisted back inside Jonas Ramalho and Juanpe. The resulting shot was struck firmly enough but the Girona goalkeeper should have done better than parrying into his bottom right corner.Barca’s talisman seemed determined to turn Bono’s night into an ordeal and he clipped a cute free-kick under a jumping defensive wall to make it 3-1.Girona kept coming and Ter Stegen saved sharply from Anthony Lozano’s header, but a blistering break orchestrated by Messi allowed Coutinho to tee up Suarez for a simple finish.There was no let-up from Valverde’s side and Rakitic and Dembele combined for Suarez to hit the outside of the post in pursuit of his hat-trick after 54 minutes.Dembele shifted inside Espinoza to come agonisingly close to a confidence-boosting goal before Gerard Pique was allowed to rest for the final half hour, having again hobbled through portions of the action.3 – Players with most goals scored from outside the box in Europe’s top five leagues in last five seasons:Lionel Messi 29PHILIPPE COUTINHO 19Cristiano Ronaldo 19Premiere. pic.twitter.com/pNgSgtjsfo— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 24, 2018Coutinho brought Camp Nou to its feet with a trademark curler from 25 yards midway through the second half.Bono finally bested Messi by tipping his latest free-kick away from the top corner and touched a late header from substitute Thomas Vermaelan on to the bar.But he had to pick a ball that now belongs to Suarez out of his net one last time in the 77th minute – Dembele charging down the right channel and crossing for the Uruguay striker to do the rest.Barca finished the game with 10 when, after making all three substitutions, right-back Nelson Semedo limped off with an apparent hamstring injury.Key Opta stats:- Luis Suarez has scored 15 goals in his last 12 La Liga matches, all of them assisted by a team-mate and all of them coming from inside the box. – Lionel Messi has scored 30 or more goals in each of his last 10 seasons for Barcelona in all competitions (30 in 2017-18).- Portu is the only player to score against Barcelona, Atletico and Real Madrid in La Liga this season. read morelast_img read more

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Barcelona held as Las Palmas steal point

first_imgLas Palmas 1 Barcelona 1: Calleri penalty cancels out Messi opener Rob Lancaster Last updated 1 year ago 06:03 2/3/2018 Lionel Messi_cropped Twitter: (@FCBarcelona) Lionel Messi scored for the first time at Estadio Gran Canaria but the LaLiga leaders failed to beat Las Palmas on the road. Leaders Barcelona opened the door for Atletico Madrid in the LaLiga title race as they were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw away at relegation-threatened Las Palmas.After Antoine Griezmann inspired Atletico to a 4-0 win on Wednesday, Ernesto Valverde’s side knew a win would restore their seven-point cushion before they face their nearest rivals at the Camp Nou on Sunday.Lionel Messi thundered in a 21st-minute free-kick to put Barcelona in front and, in the process, score for the first time at the Estadio Gran Canaria. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp However, the struggling hosts were gifted the chance to equalise straight after the break, Jonathan Calleri confidently converting a penalty after Matias Aguirregaray had seemingly been fouled at a corner, and Barca could not find a way to restore their lead against a resolute home side.While the draw sees Barca extend their unbeaten league record, they are now just five points clear of Atletico in second.And it is now only three wins in their last seven outings in all competitions for the Catalans, a run that will concern Valverde ahead of a critical run of fixtures, with the visit of Atletico coming just 10 days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.4 – Leo Messi is the player who has scored the most free kick goals this season (four, one more than Neymar and Fekir). Unique pic.twitter.com/fiO3c6w7kt— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 1, 2018 After Atletico’s one-man demolition job on Leganes 24 hours earlier, a much-changed Barca knew the pressure was on to respond before they face Diego Simeone’s in-form side.Luis Suarez – risked from the start despite being just one yellow card away from a suspension – was unable to give his side an early lead as the visitors butchered a two-on-one opportunity.Messi stole possession and appeared certain to set up the opener, only to delay squaring the ball to his unmarked team-mate.Leandro Chichizola capitalised on the delayed pass to bravely Suarez’s block the eventual effort, though there was little Las Palmas’ goalkeeper could do about Barcelona’s opener midway through the half.Having gone over the wall with an earlier set-piece strike, Messi opted for power over precision with his second free-kick. Chichizola had a clear view of the attempt, yet still could not prevent it flashing into the top right corner of his goal.The hosts saw their keeper escape punishment when, having charged out of his penalty area to clear, the ball struck his outstretched hand, referee Antonio Mateu judging there was no intent despite the clear deflection denying Suarez the chance to shoot into an unguarded net from a tight angle.79- Barcelona have conceded a penalty in La Liga 79 games after (since February 2016 against Celta). News pic.twitter.com/5oVAWenFRn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 1, 2018The official was again required to make a big call immediately after the break, spotting an infringement as Aguirregaray attempted to head home at the near post.Calleri successfully scored from the spot, firing in his seventh goal of the season to draw Las Palmas level and force a frustrated Valverde to send for his big guns from the bench.Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Raikitic and Ousmane Dembele all came on, yet Barcelona struggled to find a way to get through a determined home team that saw all four members of their starting defence pick up bookings.Aguirregaray summed up the home side’s brave display when he produced a desperate tackle from behind on Messi, securing Las Palmas a point that will also be celebrated in the Spanish capital. read morelast_img read more

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