Lionel Messi struck another late winner to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 and secure Barcelona a potentially vital triumph in LaLiga’s engrossing title race.
Diego Godin had seemingly salvaged Atletico a draw 20 minutes from the end, but Messi broke the hosts’ hearts with a late goal to make Diego Simeone’s men rue their missed opportunities and put Barca top of the table ahead of Real Madrid’s trip to Villarreal.
Things should have been far better for Atletico, though, as they looked as fluid as they have all season during the first half and carved out a series of strong chances, with Yannick Carrasco, Godin and Antoine Griezmann all going close.
But the home side failed to make the most of their openings and Barca grew into proceedings, threatening Atletico with a few fine chances of their own towards the end of the half.
Atletico’s ineffectiveness in front of goal was capitalised on when Rafinha opened the scoring just after the hour mark, though Godin headed the home side back on level terms.
However, just as he did against Leganes last time out in LaLiga, Messi struck at the death to move Barca on to 54 points and back to the summit, where they will stay if Real Madrid fail to beat Villarreal later on Sunday.
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