Atletico 1-2 Barcelona: Messi fires Catalans to top spot

La Liga By: Ayodeji Tunde | 26/02/2017


Lionel Messi's 87th minute goal has momentarily taken Barcelona to the top of the La Liga standings as the Catalan giants secured a nervy 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid in what will be the last ever meeting between the two teams at the Vicente Calderón.

After firing blanks in the first half, Rafinha put the visitors in front in the 64th minute but Diego Godin pulled Atleti level six minutes later.

With the match already heading to a stalemate, Messi in his characteristic manner popped up with a winning goal three minutes from time.

The three points secured in one of the most difficult grounds in Spanish football has taken Barcelona's tally to 54 points; two more than Real Madrid who will be in action later tonight and also have an outstanding game against Celta Vigo.

First half

Yannick Carrasco had the first chance of the game when he peeled off his marker at the far post from a swirling delivery, but the winger’s first touch took the ball away from the target thus denying the host an early lead.

The resulting corner fell to Diego Godin in the penalty area, but the defender blazed the ball over.

Much like in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, Atleti were pressing high up the pitch and making it difficult for Barca to adopt a possession game.

Griezmann hit a half-volley on target, seemingly destined for the bottom-right corner, but Samuel Umtiti came flying across to make the block.

The forward was at it again moments later, unleashing a rocket from 25 yards out, which Ter Stegen superbly tipped over.

A chance finally fell to Barca, but Messi could not bury the ball in the net.

Suarez, Neymar all their turns and even Pique almost nicked a goal just before half-time, having climbed highest to meet the corner, but it was caught by Oblak on his line.

Samuel Umtiti, meanwhile, felt he should’ve been awarded a penalty after he was bundled to the deck by Savic.

Second half

After earlier misses by both teams after the restart,  it was Barca that broke the deadlock. The first to the rebound from Suarez’s blocked shot near the Atleti penalty area, Rafinha dinked a finish into the bottom-left corner.

]Messi subsequently reached 20 La Liga goals in the quickest time for nine years as Atleti became the La Liga team he had scored most against. Barca, meanwhile, extended their unbeaten run against Atleti in the League to 14 games

Match stats

Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona

Godin 70 (AM) Rafinha 64, Messi 86 (B)

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Godin, Savic, Filipe; Gabi, Koke, Saul, Carrasco (Torres 68); Griezmann, Gameiro (Correa 72)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Pique, Umtiti, Mathieu (Digne 77); Sergi (Gomes 85), Busquets, Iniesta (Rakitic 71), Rafinha; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Referee: Mateu Lahoz