Barcelona 3-1 Atletico Madrid: Barca's South Americans fire to down defending Champions
Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi all hit the target to help Barcelona defeat the reigning La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid 3-1 at Camp Nou. In a heated match, the front three of Barcelona were in sublime form as they all hit the back of the net to maintain pressure on league leaders Real Madrid.
The match came soon after rumours of a bust-up between Lionel Messi and manager Luis Enrique. The Spaniard chose an attacking Barcelona line-up with the three goalscorers along with Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was back in the starting eleven whereas Xavi wasn’t even on the bench.
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone opted to start with Mario Mandzukic rather than Fernando Torres.
In this La Liga clash, Barcelona didn’t show any signs of a club having dressing room unrest, playing Atletico out of the park with 68% possession and 17 shots in comparison to just 5 for the away team.
The Catalan outfit took a deserved lead in the 12th minute when Lionel Messi’s cross was deflected onto the path of Neymar by Uruguayan Luis Suarez. The Brazilian made no mistake in tapping the ball into an empty net.
Barca were duly rewarded for their persistence with another goal after thirty-five minutes were played at the Camp Nou when Suarez doubled the home side’s advantage.
The half-time whistle would’ve seemed like a blessing for Simeone’s men as they were completely out-played in the first half.
Within less than 15 minutes of the second half, Barcelona conceded a controversial penalty through an unlikely source – Lionel Messi. Mario Mandzukic stepped up and duly converted the spot-kick to halve the deficit.
In search of an equalizer, Atletico kept on pushing Barcelona, but were left vulnerable on the counter attack.
However, their efforts went in vain as the man who gave away the penalty sealed the win late in the game for Barcelona after a goal-mouth scramble to make it 3-1.
Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Neymar (12’)
Lionel Messi found space to cross the ball towards Suarez with his right-foot. The Uruguayan couldn’t control it and the ball bounced off his belly towards the far post where the Brazilian, Neymar, was lurking. Neymar slid the ball in past a scrambling Miguel Moya.
Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid: Luis Suarez (35’)
A swift Barcelona counter-attack brought another Barca goal when Lionel Messi carried the ball just before playing Suarez through from the edge of the box with a superb pass. Suarez made no mistake as he side-foot the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid: Mario Mandzukic (pen) (57’)
Atletico Madrid were awarded a lifeline when Lionel Messi was harshly adjudged to have brought down Jesus Gamez. The referee pointed to the spot and Mandzukic smashed the ball in the center of the goal as Claudio Bravo jumped to his right.
Barcelona 3-1 Atletico Madrid: Lionel Messi (87’)
A grounded cross came in dangerously and Messi missed his initial attempt, but the ball bounced back, fortunately, towards the Argentine off the leg of substitute Raul Garcia. This time Messi made no mistake as he calmly put the ball into the back of the net with a first-time left footed shot.