Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi struck late goals as Barcelona broke down the stubborn resistance of 10-man Atletico Madrid to move 11 points clear at the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win.
Atletico had battled superbly after Diego Costa’s mindless 28th minute red card, but were finally prised open with six minutes left.
And moments after Luis Suarez bent a shot in off the inside of the post, Lionel Messi made sure of the win over Barca’s closest rivals with a wonderful mazy run and neat finish.
For the opening 28 minutes the game was a joy to watch with both sides committed to attacking.
Barca were on the front foot in the opening stages, though they had to wait until the 14th minute for their first clear sight of goal.
It was a fine chance when it came, with Jordi Alba striking the left upright after latching on to Lionel Messi’s lofted pass.
Atletico were pushing forward themselves but leaving gaps for Barca to try to exploit on the counter.
Suarez had a half-chance in the 19th minute when the ball rebounded off Diego Godin and sat up, but the Uruguayan fired over.
At the other end, Antoine Griezmann hit a shot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen as the angle tightened.
Messi sent a free-kick narrowly over before Jan Oblak denied Philippe Coutinho, who shot too close to the goalkeeper after being played in by Suarez.
Thirty seconds later, the game changed entirely as Costa suffered a moment of madness, all but squaring up to the referee and earning a straight red card.
Atletico were still trying to reorganise when a poor back pass from Godin almost played in Suarez but he could not capitalise from a tight angle.
Atletico dropped back into their shell as what had been an open game became much tighter. Barca were limited to half-chances for Messi and Coutinho before the break, but neither had the beating of Oblak.
The second half was slow to get going but in the 55th minute, Messi spun away from Koke and got his shot away, but again Oblak gathered comfortably.
Just after the hour, Barca’s talisman went on a long run before laying the ball off to Suarez, but his shot did not have the power to beat the goalkeeper.
Messi then tried to bend a shot beyond Oblak, who parried the shot before his momentum took him beyond the ball, but he recovered before Coutinho could latch onto it.
Atletico got a rare second-half chance when Gerard Pique was punished for a push on Angel Correa but Griezmann’s free-kick was comfortably gathered by Ter Stegen.
Barca continued to build pressure at the other end, where Oblak had to make a double save, first parrying Suarez’s shot and then keeping out an effort on the rebound from substitute Malcom.
A set-piece gave Atletico another opportunity in the 74th minute but Rodrigo headed Griezmann’s cross over when Jose Gimenez looked better placed.
But just as it appeared Atletico were going to take a hard-earned point, Suarez struck a sublime shot to finally beat Oblak with six minutes left.
Picking the ball up just outside the area, Suarez spun away from Thomas and bent a shot beyond the outstretched arm of Oblak and in off the post.
In his wild celebrations, Suarez earned a yellow card for taking off his shirt, meaning he will miss the next match.
Atletico were still reeling from that goal when Messi made it 2-0 with a typical jinking run and low shot which left Oblak wrong-footed.
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