La Liga wrap: Barcelona boost title bid
By Football News
Barcelona have triumphed 4-1 over Atletico Madrid in La Liga's top-of-the-table clash despite going behind to a brilliant Falcao goal.
Atletico Madrid entered Sunday's game six points behind Barcelona but by the end of the 90 minutes the Catalan club had extended their lead to three wins, after pulling the visitors apart in the second half.
After the break, Lionel Messi scored his eighth brace in as many starts for Barcelona, while Adriano arguably contributed the goal of the match, when he smashed home the equaliser in the 36th minute.
The visitors from Madrid almost took the lead in the ninth minute when Falcao flicked a right-wing cross onto the far post but the ball bounced out and was cleared by Barcelona's defence.
But Atletico Madrid's Colombian striker put the visitors in front in the 31st minute when Lionel Messi lost the ball in midfield to Diego Costa before the Brazilian passed to Falcao on the half-way line, who burst away from Sergio Busquets and expertly chipped Victor Valdes at full speed.
Just five minutes later Barcelona were level thanks to a stunning equaliser from Adriano.
The Brazilian full-back cut inside onto his left foot and curled a thumping shot into the far top corner off the underside of the crossbar.
Barcelona were ahead at half-time after Busquets showed composure in the penalty area to step around his opponent and shoot into the roof of the net in the 45th minute, following a goal-mouth scramble.
Messi extended the home side's lead in quintessential fashion in the 57th minute when he rolled off his marker onto his left foot and struck the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
And the Argentine phenomenon grabbed his second goal when he nicked the ball off Atletico defender Diego Godin and dinked it over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 88th minute.
The win has taken Barcelona to 46 points after their eighth-straight victory in La Liga and extended their lead over arch-rivals Real Madrid to 13 points.
Real could only manage a 2-2 draw at home against Barcelona's second club Espanyol.
Having gone behind to Sergio Garcia's 31st minute opener, Real recovered thanks to goals either side of half-time from Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao.
But Espanyol took a share of the points when Juan Albin scored in the 88th minute.
A corner from the left was not dealt with by Real's defence and Hector Moreno headed the ball to Albin, who got the decisive touch past Iker Casillas.
In other La Liga results, Rayo Vallecano and Levante grabbed 1-0 wins away to Valencia and Real Zaragoza respectively.