Magical Lionel Messi sinks Atletico Madrid as Barcelona return to the top

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal (Source: Reuters)

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 on Sunday 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.