Barcelona 2-0 Atlético Madrid: La Liga – as it happened

After Diego Costa was sent off in the first half for serious dissent, late goals from Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi took Barcelona eleven points clear at the top

Sid Lowe’s report is here

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Kári Tulinius emails in: “Coutinho seems like half the player he was at Liverpool, yet he’ll win La Liga this seasons, and possibly the Champions League too. I always find it fascination when great players start racking up titles at the same time as their skill and confidence deserts them. The paradigmatic example is Fernando Torres, who won the FA Cup, Champions League, European Championship and the World Cup over a two year period while in the worst form of his career.”

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Luis Suárez speaks

After the red card, we trying to find more depth. It wasn’t always easy. We were trying to play the ball with more rhythm. We showed a great attitude. They have a fantastic keeper. I don’t know. You would have to ask the referee [about Diego Costa], the referee said he had insulted him. I don’t want to comment.

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Full-time: Barcelona 2-0 Atletico

That means Barcelona are champions elect, and on course for a second title in a row, a fifth in seven seasons. Messi and Suarez have made the difference once again, though the major incident is the red card for Costa. “I can’t tell you what he said,” says Koke of his team-mate. “I honestly haven’t seen him.” There is praise offered to Oblak, who was brilliant until being beaten by Suarez.

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90+2 min: Saul and Rakitic clash down on the sidelines, just after Messi had been on the end of a crunching tackle. The referee chooses, this time, not to book anyone.

90 min: Two minutes have been added on, and the home fans are celebrating their team going 11 points clear. They have been rewarded for patience on what had been a night of frustration.

89 min: Two total sucker punches, and two typical goals from Suarez and Messi. So cruel on Atleti, who had defended so well until now, though it has to be said that Messi had started to ramp up his involvement. And Suarez, who had not been at his best, had looked off the pace, too.

Goal! Barcelona 2-0 Atlético (Messi, 87)

Atletico barely had a chance to breathe as Rakitic’s ball finds Messi, who gives Gimenez the slip and leaves the defender on his rear end. He has the entire goal to aim at, gives Oblak, the eyes, and slips it into the further corner from the keeper. Wow!

Goal! Barcelona 1-0 Atlético (Suarez, 85)

And here it comes. Suarez, suddenly, on the edge of the area, finds the space and time to bend a shot beyond and below Oblak, who is beaten by pace of the ball. Name on the trophy?

83 min: Barcelona trying to rouse themselves for the closing stages. Messi launches into one of his Ingemar Stenmark slalom runs but his shot is thwarted.

82 min: Saul suddenly started forcing the issue, but challenges from Lenglet and Busquets force the ball half-clear. Atletico are probably the better team at this stage.

81 min: Coutinho comes off, and on comes Alena. Coutinho has done very little. In fact, he has been poor. The introduction of Alena seems a little too late, considering how poor Coutinho has been.

80 min: Alba delivers a poor cross. The radar is off for a few Barca players here.

78 min: Lenglet penalised for a cynical foul on a quickly advancing Thomas. Atletico, knowing they must win, are not settling for draw in any sense.

77 min: This remains open, very open, and more open than might be expected from ten-man Atletico. Barcelona have been far less than wonderful.

75 min: Close for Atleti. Rodri should have done better with his header from Griezman’s free-kick. Far better. And Gimenez, behind him, was in a far better position to score.

73 min: Atletico win a free-kick that Pique disputes. He gets a yellow card after knocking Morata over and then launching into a complaint that did not mention mother’s milk, presumably.

71 min: A yellow card, as Saul is booked for leaving one in on Suarez. Not many complaints this time.

69 min: Two saves from Oblak this time. Suarez drops the ball to Messi, whose scrambled effort is palmed away, then Malcom’s shot cannot beat the angle.

68 min: Atletico free-kick, and it falls to Griezmann to take it. He does so, to a chorus of boos, but cannot beat Ter Stegen, who is calm in collecting it.

66 min: Corner to Barcelona as Gimenez shepherds Messi out. It comes to nothing. Meanwhile, there was a Barcelona substitution, two players swapping places who would sound like regulars down the Rovers Return with one extra letter.

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64 min: Messi has yet another shot. Griezmann is the first player of many to miss their tackle on him, before Messi’s shot is batted away by Oblak.

62 min: That was the chance...Messi carves open space, slip-slides down the left, and Suarez is to his side. The shot from the Uruguayan cannot beat Oblak, who slides out to narrow the angle and make himself favourite. Great goalkeeping.

61 min: Messi is waking up, and he goes on a weaving run, but is crowded out such that his shot is again too weak for Oblak.

58 min: Atleti make a change: Morata comes on for Felipe Luis. A pair of Chelsea misfits there. And it’s an attacking change for Simeone, who knows a draw will not be enoigh in the title race.

57 min: Messi’s skill takes him past Gimenez, and then Koke, and he gets in a shot that is not powerful enough to beat Oblak. Messi slowly gaining in influence?

55 min: A goalless draw looks the most likely result at this point, though Atleti are entitled to tire. At the moment, they are looking full of energy, and have even started gaining territory.

54 min: Mark Turner emails in: “There are a whole range of sayings in Iberian peninsula Spanish that revolve around the concept of “cagar en la leche” (shit in the milk). Depending on the situation they can be reasonably inoffensive and merely refer to something going wrong, but the way Diego Costa used his, directly to the ref and referring to his mother as the owner of the milk, is very offensive and red-cardable. You won’t hear much controversy about the decision in Spain tomorrow.”

So there, Josh in Cardiff.

53 min: Messi has been very quiet, which is usually a bad sign, and he immediately creates a chance for Busquets, who shoots very poorly. Just about any other Barca player - even Ter Stegen - would have been a better candidate for that.

51 min: It has to be said Barcelona are not at their best. Enough to get Mike Phelan rubbing his shorts in anticipation ahead of the tactical masterclass he can prepare for them next week.

49 min: Barcelona are trying to do this slowly, taking their time before finding the spaces. Messi is at the centre of it, but he still has Saul breathing down his neck.

47 min: L’eminence Griez takes a corner, and is booed by the Barca fans, for the sin of not joining their club?

46 min: Ok, we are back underway here. The talk is still of Costa, though no doubt Simeone has made plans without his dissident striker. Correa and Alba clash and it looks like Alba came off worse, though he will try to run this off.

William Hargreaves has a take: “With reference to 20.39: he was saying that his favourite beverage is a Costa’s latte, but not the way his mother makes it.”

Yes, that must be it.

“Does it look like dissent John? Because as a football journalist you surely know that dissent is a yellow card offence right? Insulting, Abusive or Offensive language or gesture,” says Josh in Cardiff. Yes, Josh, but I am not the referee.

Shaun Vandersteen, in Barcelona, has an idea what Costa said, as he “can lipread Spanish”, and it involved Diego doing something very dirty to the referee’s mother’s milk. Thanks for emailing in, Shaun.

45+3 min: That’s half-time, and the incident that those 45 minutes will be recalled for will be the harsh words Costa had for the referee and his resultant red card. Diego Simeone was waiting for the referee at the tunnel to give his view, though hopefully in a more polite fashion.

45+1 min: There are three added minutes in this half, which has been frenetic, and full of incident, if short of the highest class.

45 min: Messi has been something of a passenger here, though his presence has dragged other players elsewhere. Saul is sat on Messi, pretty much, though he gets a first touch in ten minutes or so and fires it straight at Oblak.

43 min: Suarez tries to send Coutinho down the left, but it is overhit. Unfortunate for Coutinho, for whom life is not going smoothly at Barca yet, is it? And all that money, too.

41 min: Simeone is organising his team to sit deep and see this out until half-time. Despite what looked like his utter stupidity, Costa is missed. He had made an even contest of it. Now we are watching a session of attack v defence.

39 min: Chaos for Atleti as Godin and Oblak get in a right tangle, and then Suarez, with the angle closed off, backheels blindly in the direction of Messi. The ball is pumped clear.

37 min: Barcelona force a corner. They take it short, rather than go all Allardyce. And choose to be patient. Suarez makes a penalty claim with some theatrics. No dice.

36 min: There has been no football played since that latest Costa Crime, but Barcelona are pushing forward. Atleti are now playing a long-ball game.

34 min: We are seeing the incident again. The referee had allowed an advantage, which Costa took exception to, and in no uncertain terms...Atleti make their change. Off goes Arias, and on come Correa, an attacker.

32 min: Nobody seems to know what caused that eruption and dismissal aside from the ref taking exception to Costa being Costa, but Pique the peacemaker won the day in marching Costa off. Atleti are preparing a sub.

30 min: Well, that was entirely in character from Costa. He exploded into temper. Diego Simeone looks downcast on the sidelines. Their chance gone already?

Diego Costa talks with referee Gil Manzano before receiving a red card.
Diego Costa talks with referee Gil Manzano before receiving a red card. Photograph: Lluís Gené/AFP/Getty Images

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Red card for Diego Costa!

It looks like dissent. Was it something off the ball? It’s not clear. Pique walks Costa off, as Costa is given his marching orders. He was right in the face of the referee.

28 min: What a save from Oblak, though he was given a chance by Coutinho not quite connecting.

27 min: Ole in the stands wondering if Phil Jones and Chris Smalling can play like Godin and Gimenez. Perhaps best not to start thinking about that.

25 min: A speedy attack from Barcelona, perhaps too speedy; Messi and Suarez’s exchange of play is too helter skelter. They seem determined to get the job done quickly. And Atletico are pushing them into such mistakes.

Lionel Messi is challenged by Rodri.
Lionel Messi is challenged by Rodri. Photograph: Lluís Gené/AFP/Getty Images

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23 min: Barcelona, a little rattled? Messi is fouled, and in the territory from which he rattled in the ball against Villarreal. This time, he can’t keep it down.

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21 min: Griezmann escapes down the left of Barcelona’s attack, which has been a weak point, and gets in a shot that does not trouble Ter Stegen.

20 min: Thomas emails in, and he is absolutely right: “Hey John, This might seem a little pedantic but PSG is on track for only their second Ligue 1 title in a row as AS Monaco won in 2016-2017.”

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19 min: Atleti doing a fair amount of attacking here. Koke and Thomas are at the forefront. Griezmann has been quiet so far.

17 min: Arias, on the right, burst on to Costa’s flick, but it was Pip Coutinho sat back doing the defending.

15 min: The post is hit by Barca! Jordi Alba overlapped inside, and then smashed the ball past Oblak but off the post...who set up the chance? Well, you know who, and Messi’s pass was unbelievably good. Oblak was beaten but his size made Alba smash the ball harder than he might perhaps have liked.

13 min: Suarez and Godin clash, two Uruguay colleagues and friends, but they won’t be backing down between them. Godin went piling in. Oh, there will be needle here.

11 min: Barcelona step it up, and go on the attack. Messi rides a couple of hefty challenges. Coutinho has a shot blocked and the corner is cleared. Then Suarez makes a mess of a cross and makes his apologies. Meanwhile, Busquets looks to have a hand injury, perhaps his wrist, but he is playing on.

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9 min: Costa is up for this one, and goes close with a header. Back in his heyday of five years ago, he was a thorn in Barcelona’s side.

8 min: Lenglet took a hell of a whack from Diego Costa, which was true to form of the striker. The fans wanted more, but just a stern word from the referee.

5 min: Er, slight technical hitch there, but we/you have not missed any goals. Off we go in earnest now, and as expected, Atleti are sat deep as Barca push on.

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Lionel Messi receives a Liga player of the month award from Patrick Kluivert and away we can go....

Ok, here we go. The teams are in the tunnel. Ole is sat in the cushioned seats, and has his notebook out. Barcelona look pretty relaxed, and take to the field with their anthem ringing out.

A pair of interested observers at Camp Nou. Has Mike Phelan now worn the “at the wheel” gags to the bone?

More on that team news. That Valverde selection means Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic return to the Barcelona team, while Pip Coutinho gets another chance, with Ousmane Dembele sitting this out as he recovers from a thigh injury. For Atleti, Diego Costa is back, which benches Alvaro Morata.

A pertinent tweet here.

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Sid Lowe on that amazing night at Villarreal.

Here are the teams. Barça have used a pic of Atlético’s nemesis.

Preamble

Barcelona only drew in midweek, but their match at Villarreal was one for the ages. It finished 4-4, with goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the 90th minute hauling back the champions and league leaders. But what goals. Messi, on as a sub, as his team cannot live without him, rattled a free-kick off the post, and deliberately while Suarez showed he has not lost his killer’s instinct with the sharpest of finishes.

A loss there might well have opened up the Liga title race, but today’s match is where it might well be ended. Atlético Madrid are eight points behind, with eight matches to play. Even a Barcelona draw could close off the race. Atlético’s loss at Bilbao three weeks ago all but killed their title chances. And even with Manchester United in mind for Tuesday night, Lionel Messi will not be rested. In 37 appearances against Atlético in all competitions, Messi has scored 28 goals.