FC Barcelona stretched their lead at the summit of La Liga to eight points after a hard fought win against closest title challengers Atletico Madrid.
The Madrid outfit were looking to inflict on the Catalan side their first league defeat of the season and also cut the gap at the top of the table to just two points.
Having won 14 of their previous 16 league games, Atletico went to the Camp Nou high on confidence, especially as Antoine Griezmann was in red-hot form, scoring seven of the nine goals in their last two league outings.
Adding fuel to the fire was Barca’s recent stutter in the league, who drew three of their last five La Liga encounters.
However, the Rojiblancos had to return home empty handed as a sumptuous 26th minute free kick by the talismanic Argentine Lionel Messi, who scored his 600th goal for club and country, was enough to hand Barca all three points and land them in the pole position for the league title.
Atletico’s attack was marginalised for most of the match, and they did not present any threat on the counter-attack, something that will disappoint their manager, Diego Simeone.
Atletico were also denied an equalizer towards the end of the game as Diego Costa headed down a ball for substitute Kevin Gamiero to smash home, but the Brazil-born Spanish international was rightfully adjudged offside.
With 11 games still to be played, there is a lot to fight for, although Barca are now favourites to win the trophy for the 26th time.