Diego Simeone oversaw his 300th match as head coach for Atletico de Madrid at the weekend but Lionel Messi was there to ruin his special day by grabbing a late goal for a 3-2 Barca victory.
It was a win that Barcelona and coach Luis Enrique desperately needed.
Although Atletico were the better side in a goalless first half at the soon-to-be demolished Vicente Calderon stadium, Barca took control just after the hour mark.
Rafinha swept home following a scramble in the Atletico box.
Rafinha</a> has scored 7 competitive goals in his best season to date. For more stats from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AtletiFCB?src=hash">#AtletiFCB</a> 👉 <a href="https://t.co/x5vxbLtHCT">https://t.co/x5vxbLtHCT</a> <a href="https://t.co/keJCzu4Enm">pic.twitter.com/keJCzu4Enm</a></p>— FC Barcelona (FCBarcelona) February 27, 2017
But Diego Godin had Atletico deservedly level six minutes later with a trademark header off a set piece.
As the clock ticked down and the tie looked destined for a draw, up stepped the previously anonymous Messi.
The Argentine international, who was relatively quiet all night, poked home on 87 minutes to seal all three points for the Catalan giants and push Atletico further away from the title race.
Barcelona are now just one point behind league pacesetters Real Madrid, who beat Villarreal on Sunday and have a game in hand
Up and down
Our up and down segment today features two perennial rivals and a club that is rewriting its own history but for all the wrong reasons.
On the up is Lionel Messi who despite his rather quiet performance throughout the tie scored his 27th goal in 34 matches against Atletico. He has now netted 13 times at Vicente Calderon, more than at any other away ground. He is currently La Liga’s top scorer with 20 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo is also on the up on our list after the Portuguese international surpassed Hugo Sanchez as La Liga’s most prolific goal scorer from the penalty spot. His spot kick at the weekend against Villarreal takes his tally to 57, one more than Sanchez.
On the down are bottom of the table Osasuna.
The Pamplona side are suffering their worst winless streak in the club’s history right now.
They are without victory in 16 matches, with 12 defeats and four draws.
Their last win came on the 17th October against Eibar.
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