MADRID, DecEMBER 2
Lionel Messi underlined his ability to make the difference on big occasions by hitting a sensational late goal to give Barcelona a 1-0 win at title rivals Atletico Madrid as the champions reclaimed top spot in La Liga from Real Madrid. The Argentine, playing his 701st game for Barca, 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. 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.
“Whenever you have a game like this which is really tight and really tough, being able to count on Messi is always an advantage,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde. 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. — Reuters
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