Published 06/04/2019 at 18:15 GMT | Updated 06/04/2019 at 21:21 GMT
Two goals in two minutes from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez saw Barcelona open up an 11-point lead at the top of La Liga with a hard-fought 2-0 win over second place Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone were forced to play the majority of the match with 10 men following Diego Costa’s red card for dissent after just 30 minutes, but they still managed to play a smart game that saw them hold their own until the dying moments.
Barcelona struggled to open up a well-organised Atleti defence until the 85th minute when Suarez created space for himself and guided a right-footed strike from outside the box in off the inside of the impressive Jan Oblak’s far post.
Seconds letter, the points were well and truly secured, with Messi driving at the Atleti backline and cutting back a reverse finish into the back of the net despite Jose Maria Gimenez making a well-timed challenge on the Argentinean.
With just seven games left to play, Barcelona now hold an 11-point lead at the top of La Liga, all but confirming them as 2018/19 champions. Next up for Ernesto Valverde’s side is their Champions League quarter final first leg against Manchester United on Wednesday.
TALKING POINT - Did Diego Costa cost Atletico Madrid their chance of three points?
For the opening 30 minutes, Atletico Madrid looked the better side. Their game plan was working and rather than sitting back and absorbing, as is typical for Simeone’s side on the big occasion, they were taking the match to Barcelona. All that changed when Costa was sent off for dissent. Who knows how the game would have panned out had Atleti kept 11 men on the pitch, but the striker certainly didn’t help their cause.
Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid is spoken to by Gerard Pique of Barcelona as he is sent off during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Tomorrow morning, it will be the faces of Messi ands Suarez, certainly not for the first time, on the front pages of the Catalan sports dailies. They were, after all, the guys who decided the game. But it would have been decided long before the final five minutes had it not been for the performance of Oblak, who underlined his status as one of the best goalkeepers in the world with this display. He deserved better than to end up on the losing side.
Barcelona - Ter Stegen 7, Roberto 6, Pique 6, Lenglet 7, Alba 7, Rakitic 6, Busquets 5, Arthur 5, Messi 8, Suarez 7, Coutinho 5. Subs - Malcom 7, Alena 5, Semedo 5.
Atletico Madrid - Oblak 8, Arias 6, Gimenez 7, Godin 6, Filipe 5, Saul 7, Rodri 6, Thomas 6, Koke 6, Griezmann 6, Costa 2. Subs - Correa 5, Morata 5, Juanfran 5.
15’ Alba off the post! Inches away from being an opener for Barcelona! Messi played a sensational pass through to the left back, but Alba, despite beating Oblak, couldn't find the back of the net. He couldn’t have done much more.
30’ Coutinho denied! Massive chance for the Barcelona playmaker! The space opened up for Coutinho, he had time to pick his spot, but Oblak came up with the big save to deny him! Huge moment in this match!
31’ COSTA SENT OFF! Atletico Madrid have been reduced to 10 men! It was an off the ball incident involving Costa... who else? It had to be something that Costa said to the referee. What a turning point in this match.
65’ Massive chance for Suarez! That was the chance for Barcelona to take the lead. Messi surged forward from deep, Atleti backed off, the pass was played through to Suarez, but Oblak makes the save with an outstretched leg!
78’ Great chance for Rodri! Oh dear! That was a big opportunity for Atletico Madrid. There were two in the middle to get on the end of Griezmann's freekick, but Rodri gets in the way of Gimenez, who was in a better position behind him.
85’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid: That will surely be the winner! That's surely the Liga title secured for Barcelona! It's Suarez and what a goal from the striker! He created the space for himself 20 yards out, shifting the ball on to his right foot, and found the back of the net off the inside of the Atleti post! Excellent goal!
86’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid: A quickfire second for Barcelona and the three points are in the bag! Gimenez made the sliding tackle on Messi, he won the ball, but the Barcelona number 10 picked it up again and then cut the finish back into the near post! A reverse finish from Messi!
Lionel Messi now has more La Liga wins than any player in the history of the division (335).
Messi has been directly involved in 45 or more goals in seven of his last nine La Liga campaigns.
Nine Atletico Madrid players have been sent off against Barcelona since Diego Simeone took over, three times as many than against any other opponent (in all competition).