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2018/2019 Spanish Primera División
  • Luis Suárez (85')
  • Lionel Messi (86')
  • Diego Costa (28')

Messi sets La Liga wins mark as Barcelona increase La Liga lead to 11 points

Lionel Messi set a new La Liga wins mark while Barcelona increased their commanding lead to 11 points with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Diego Costa was given a straight red card in the opening half-hour for a derogatory comment about referee Jesus Gil Manzano's mother, putting Diego Simeone's men a man down in what was a must-win game to keep any realistic title hopes alive.

Atletico produced a gutsy second-half display, expertly shackling Barca, but the Catalans finally found a way past the visitors' outstanding goalkeeper Jan Oblak with a superb curling shot from Suarez in the 85th minute.

Moments later Messi sealed victory and quite probably the league title with an irresistibly cool finish into the net and Barca's fans jubilantly chanted "champions", crowing at their surely unassailable lead at the top with seven games remaining.

Atletico realistically needed to win at the Nou Camp for the first time since 2006 to stay in the title race and they played with ambition and intelligence in the opening stages, keeping the ball for long periods and depriving Barca of space.

But they were rocked by Costa's moment of madness which killed their early momentum and left them with little choice but to defend for the remaining hour of the game.

Striker Costa reacted angrily to not being awarded a foul after being tackled by Jordi Alba and gave a long verbal response to the referee, who to his disbelief pulled out a red card.

Costa had to be shepherded off the pitch by Barca's Gerard Pique as he struggled to control his temper while his teammates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez earned bookings for venting their anger over the decision.

Atletico coped superbly with the setback and numerical disadvantage, controlling the space for the majority of the game.

Messi still carved his way through the middle of the pitch on two occasions, creating openings for Suarez and himself but both South American forwards were thwarted by the titanic presence of Oblak.

Atletico naturally had limited opportunities down the other end but were not far from finding a goal when Antoine Griezmann picked out Rodrigo from a free kick but the midfielder headed over the bar when Gimenez was stood behind him, in a better position.

Diego Simeone's side could not last the distance, however, and as their legs inevitably tired, Barca's attacking quality made the difference.

The win marked the 335th in La Liga for the Argentina international, passing former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas on the all-time list.

The defending La Liga champions now have 73 points from 31 matches, while second-placed Atletico remain on 62.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

Spanish Primera División Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Barcelona 33 +51 77
2 Atletico Madrid 33 +27 68
3 Real Madrid 32 +18 61
4 Sevilla FC 32 +15 52
5 Getafe 32 +11 51
6 Valencia 32 +9 49
7 Athletic Bilbao 32 -1 46
8 Alavés 33 -7 46
9 Real Betis 32 -5 43
10 Real Sociedad 33 -2 41
11 Leganes 32 -4 41
12 Espanyol 32 -9 41
13 Eibar 33 -3 40
14 Celta Vigo 33 -9 35
15 Girona 33 -12 34
16 Villarreal 32 -5 33
17 Levante 32 -14 33
18 Real Valladolid 33 -19 32
19 Rayo Vallecano 33 -21 28
20 Huesca 33 -20 26