Barcelona move closer to Spanish title after beating 10-man Atletico - GulfToday

Barcelona move closer to Spanish title after beating 10-man Atletico

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Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi vie for the ball with Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez during their Spanish League match. Reuters

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored twice in two minutes as Barcelona broke the resistance of 10-man Atletico Madrid on Saturday to go 11 points clear of their La Liga title rivals.

Diego Costa was sent off in the 28th minute at Camp Nou after insulting referee Gil Manzano but while Atletico held on for almost another hour, Suarez and Messi struck late to seal a pivotal 2-0 win.

The victory leaves Barca almost out of sight with seven games left to play and maintains momentum ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Manchester United in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

“It is three crucial points,” coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We are a little closer.”

“It gives us a big margin,” said Suarez. “We’ve taken not just one, but two steps forward.”

United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in the crowd along with his assistant Mike Phelan but this was a familiar story of Barcelona’s deadly duo delivering when it mattered most.

Costa’s early and needless dismissal left Atletico needing snookers just to avoid defeat, let alone pull off the win that their coach Diego Simeone had said last week was the only result to keep their challenge alive.

“I asked the referee and he told me Costa said something to him,” Simeone said.

“Other players have said things and not been sent off but that does not justify what Costa did.”

Suarez intervened with a superb long-range strike in the 85th minute, before Messi added a second in the 86th. The pair have now scored 53 league goals between them this season while for Messi, this was a record 335th La Liga victory.

Agence France-Presse