Messi fires Barca to the top of La Liga

Lionel Messi scores a late winner as Barcelona beat title rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday to move to the top of the La Liga standings.

  • Atletico Madrid 1 Barcelona 2
  • Both keepers make vital saves
  • Rafinha gives Barca the lead
  • Godin levels scoreline soon after
  • Messi scores late on to secure win

Match Summary

A highly-entertaining first half finished goalless as both goalkeepers made crucial saves before the break. Luis Enrique's side opened the scoring through Rafinha on 64 minutes, but Diego Godin brought Atleti back in the contest soon afterwards with an equaliser.

However, Messi had the final say as he netted the winner four minutes from time to take Barca to the league summit, two points clear of Real Madrid, who have two games in hand on them.

Full Report

Atletico took the game to Barca from the get-go as Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were passengers for much of the first half.

The hosts created their first chance after just four minutes from a corner that dropped at the feet of Diego Godin, who steered the ball over the crossbar.

Gabi then tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen with an acrobatic volley in the 16th minute after getting on the end of Kevin Gameiro's first-time pass on the left, while Samuel Umtiti recovered well moments later to block Antoine Griezmann's shot on the turn after heading his clearance straight to the French forward.

Griezmann went close to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes later with a fierce strike from 22 yards out that was tipped over by Ter Stegen after Gerard Pique gave the ball away, before Saul fired well wide of the left post shortly afterwards following another poor clearance from Umtiti.

The Catalans had the ball in the back on the net from their first real foray upfield  on 29 minutes when Messi's low shot was saved by Jan Oblak and rebounded to Suarez, who headed home, but the goal was ruled out for handball on the Uruguayan striker in the build-up.

Suarez had another sniff at goal four minutes later as Barca countered after Ter Stegen had cut out a cross from Felipe Luis at the other end, but the striker fired over from outside the area.

Oblak pulled off a superb save to deny Messi the opener on 38 minutes as the Slovenian keeper tipped his free-kick over, while Umtiti sliced an effort wide of the right post from a corner a minute later.

The final action of the first half saw Oblak stop Pique's header on the line from a corner, with Umtiti appealing for a penalty after he went down in a tangle with Stefan Savic.

Suarez should gave given the Blaugrana the lead four minutes into the second half after being played in by Messi on the left, but he poked the ball a few yards wide of the right post from inside the area.

Godin then had a chance at the other end six minutes later as he got on the end of Sime Vrsaljko's cross on the right, but he sent a looping header over the crossbar.

But Barca did go in front on 64 minutes when Rafinha fired home from inside the box after being set up by Suarez.

Their lead lasted just six minutes, though, as Atleti restored parity through Godin, who connected with Koke's cross to head home past Oblak.

However, Messi was the hero for the visitors once again as he netted from close range to clinch three vital points.