Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the game as La Liga leaders Barcelona defeated title hopefuls Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Barcelona 1 Atletico Madrid 0
Messi free-kick breaks deadlock
Coutinho forces Oblak into reaction save
Busquets volley also saved by Oblak
Correa goal disallowed late on
Messi’s free-kick was enough to stretch Barca’s lead at the top of the table to eight points. The loss for Atleti is their first in five games and puts a real dent on their title ambitions.
The hosts started the match the brighter of the two teams, forcing Diego Simeone’s side back into their own half.
At times it looked like a training session for the Catalan giants, but despite all their possession they failed to create any meaningful chances.
It took a moment of Messi magic to break the deadlock in the in the 26th minute. He curled a sensational free-kick into the top corner which beat a sprawling Jan Oblak in the visiting goal.
Ten minutes before the break the league leaders almost doubled their advantage. Messi played in Philippe Coutinho and the Brazilian’s left-footed drive forced a reaction save from Oblak at his near post.
Atletico’s conservative approach coupled with Barca’s ability to keep the ball meant the visitors did not register a shot on goal in the first half.
Thirteen minutes from time the Blaugrana could have doubled their lead. A Messi corner from the right was met by a left-footed volley from Sergio Busquets, but Oblak stood firm to deny the midfielder.
With five minutes left on the clock, Madrid thought they had stolen a point when Angel Correa had the ball in the net only for the offside flag to punish Diego Costa, who had won the initial header.