MESSI SCORES 600th IN BARCA WIN VS ATLETI
barcelona: Barcelona moved eight points clear at the top of La Liga after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday. It was a tough old game with Lionel Messi the difference between the two sides.
Barcelona bossed the first half, while Atletico had the better of the second, but there's now a big gap between the two teams in the table.
Barcelona had a pretty good first half although it was fairly cagey stuff as you might expect to start with. Atletico were happy to let Barca have the ball and seemed to enjoy kicking Andres Iniesta.
They also had a few nibbles at Lionel Messi but were made to pay after 26 minutes. Barca were awarded a free kick just outside the box and up stepped the little genuis and put his kick over the wall and past a diving Jan Oblak. A brilliant goal and his 600th career strike as well.
Barca continued to dominate, with Atletico looking to play on the break, but lost Iniesta to injury before half-time. Andre Gomes came on to replace him and Barcelona made it to the break with the game still at 1-0 and with Marc-Andre ter Stegen having had almost nothing to do.
Atletico were a bit better after the break but still did not manage an effort on target until the 60th minute, a looping header from Saul Niguez. Barca were also suffering a bit with Gerard Pique taking another knock to his dodgy knee and looking far from comfortable.
Diego Simeone also threw on Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro and now it was the visitors dominating the ball and Barcelona looking to play on the break. Antoine Griezmann blazed an effort over the bar but that was as close as the in-form forward came.
Luis Suarez did manage to get the ball into the back of the net on 76 minutes but it was ruled out for offside and minutes later Oblak saved well from Sergio Busquets as Barca looked a bit brighter.
Atletico also had one chalked off late on as Gameiro smashed home from close range but Diego Costa was offside in the build-up, and again it was a good call from the match officials.
Girona's impressive debut in the league continued in beating Villarreal 2-0, a result that put the modest Catalan club in position to make it to the Europa League.
Christian Stuani and substitute Anthony Lozano scored for Girona, who moved to seventh place and the final qualification spot for the second-tier European competition.
It was the fourth win in six matches for Girona, who are one point behind sixth-place Villarreal and five behind fifth-place Sevilla. Villarreal lost their second straight game.
"We reached our first goal, which was to reach 40 points and earn the right to remain in the first league for another season," Girona coach Pablo Machin said.
"Now we will keep trying to win, and with five rounds to go we will see what are our chances regarding the European competitions."
Girona, whose main goal at the beginning of the season was to avoid demotion, are 20 points clear of the relegation zone with 11 matches remaining. The teams in fifth and sixth place receive an automatic spot in the Europa league, while the seventh-place team enters a qualifying round.
Deportivo La Coruna's winless streak under coach Clarence Seedorf increased to five matches after drawing with Eibar 1-1 at home.
Deportivo remained second-to-last in the standings, inside the relegation zone. The hosts played a man down from the 39th minute.