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Messi’s strike helps Barcelona return to the top of La Liga

Lionel Messi

Bengaluru, December 2: Lionel Messi scored late to give Barcelona a 1-0 win against title rivals Atletico Madrid as the champions reclaimed top spot in La Liga from Real Madrid.

The Argentinian, playing his 701st game for the Catalans, settled a pulsating and tense encounter in the 86th minute, galloping down the right wing and cutting inside before playing a one-two with Luis Suarez and guiding the ball into the bottom corner.

Messi's strike saw Barca return to the top of the standings with 31 points after 14 games, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference, while Atletico were left in sixth spot on 25 points, having played one match more than the two pacesetters.

La Liga Results | Points Table | Fixtures

It was Messi's 30th goal in 39 competitive games against Atletico and inflicted a first home defeat on Diego Simeone's side since they were beaten by Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in February.

Atletico now sit six points adrift of both Real and Barca, with those two also having a game in hand which will be played out in the season's first El Clasico at the Camp Nou on December 18.

Sevilla keeps pace

Sevilla keeps pace

Earlier, third-placed Sevilla stayed just one point behind Real and Barca with a 1-0 victory over Leganes.

Julen Lopetegui's side extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches as Brazilian centre-back Diego Carlos bundled in a 63rd-minute winner at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Real wins

Real wins

Archrivals Real Madrid had a brief stay at the top after they grounded out a tough 2-1 victory away at Alaves.

After Sergio Ramos put Real in front, he conceded a penalty to allow Lucas Perez to equalise. Later, Dani Carvajal turned the unlikely hero by netting the winner.

Messi magic

Messi magic

At the Wanda Metropolitano, an even contest looked destined to finish goalless before Messi scored late to deliver a major boost to Barcelona's La Liga title hopes.

Messi scored his 12th goal of the season and sixth in his last five games. He has 25 in 27 now against Atletico but this was his first at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Griezmann booed

Griezmann booed

Antoine Griezmann was whistled on his return to his former club, whom he left to join Barcelona in the close season, while rats were dropped on the plaque that still bears his name outside the stadium.

Barcelona were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men in the second half when Gerard Pique escaped a second yellow card for a late challenge on Alvaro Morata.

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Story first published: Monday, December 2, 2019, 10:51 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 2, 2019
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