Lionel Messi netted his 600 th career club goal with a sublime free-kick as Barcelona defeated league rivals, Atletico Madrid to move eight points clear at the top of the table.
The Argentine maestro scored the only goal against Diego Simeone’s men, who knew that a win at the Camp Nou would cut the lead to two points, and create a title race that had been missing for majority of the season. Messi scored his third free-kick in three consecutive La Liga matches against Los Rojiblancos, who had only shot on target the whole game.
Messi took a setpiece in the 26 th minute past the outstretched arms of Jan Oblak in the Atletico goal. The league leaders got the opening goal they deserved just six minutes later through Messi from yet another free-kick.
The 30-year- old curled home his strike from around 25-yards out into the top corner, despite Oblak getting a palm to it, to reach another significant milestone in his illustrious career.
One sour note for Barcelona in the first-half was the loss of Andres Iniesta, who appeared to be clutching his hamstring before he was forced to leave the pitch and replaced by Andre Gomes.
Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde made two changes in his team selection as Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique returned to the starting XI in place of Lucas Digne Thomas Vermaelen respectively.
For Atleti, Angel Correa dropped to the bench with Gabi taking his place. Croatian international, Sime Vrsaljko was preferred to Juanfran. At some point, the Madrid-based outfit had four forwards on the pitch as they searched for a positive result, but Barcelona’s defence stood firm to withstand any barrage.
The result leaves Barcelona comfortably sitting at the top of the table with 11 league games left.
Atletico remain in second on 61 points, seven points ahead of third-placed rivals Real Madrid.