MADRID – Lionel Messi came to Barcelona’s rescue once again, scoring an 86th minute goal to break a 0-0 impasse with Atletico Madrid on Sunday night at Wanda Metropolitano stadium before some 64,000 fans.
Messi hadn’t done much until five minutes before the end of regulation time, an unusually lackluster performance, but his low left-footed shot from outside the area after a great set-up by Luis Suarez was the ticket that extended Barcelona’s unbeaten run against the capital squad in LaLiga to 19 matches.
“It’s always a big advantage to have Messi in even games like these,” Barcelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, said after the match.
With the surprising result, Atletico, on the other hand, lost its first home match in 17 outings in all competitions.
It was Messi’s 30th tally against Atletico Madrid.
Although the home team managed to secure most of the decent chances on Sunday, both squads muffed good opportunities all evening.
The two goaltenders – Jan Oblak for Atletico and Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Barcelona – made a number of good saves, but Messi finally broke through the rival squad’s defenses on a superb set-up by Suarez.
With the win, Barcelona is back in the No. 1 slot in the LaLiga table, ahead of Real Madrid – which beat Alaves on Saturday – on goal differential.
Atletico, meanwhile, fell to sixth place, although just six points behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, both of which have a game in hand after their October match was postponed until Dec. 18 due to a separatist rally in the Catalan capital.