Liga - Barcelona strengthen lead at the top

La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 4 (Adriano 35, Busquets 45, Messi 58, 88) Atletico Madrid 1 (Falcao 31)

Barcelona strengthened their grip on top spot of La Liga with an excellent win against Atletico Madrid in a pulsating game between the country’s top two.

The Nou Camp fixture paired first against second and a win for the away side would have had them breathing right down the back of Barcelona’s necks, however, a home win means the Catalan club are still unbeaten and now nine points clear at the top.

Atletico started the game the more impressively with Falcao coming close twice before scoring an excellent chipped effort past Victor Valdes.

But Barcelona came back fighting and found themselves in the lead by the break after a superb curling effort from Adriano and a close-range shot from Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona stamped their authority on the game in the second half with Lionel Messi’s excellent strike making it three before he doubled his tally in the closing moments with a dink over Thibaut Courtois, taking his total for the year up to 90.

A lot of the talk in the build-up to the game had been about Falcao and he showed what a talent he is hitting the post with a header in the game’s opening moments, following a cross in from the right.

He came close to scoring again soon after when Arda Turan picked him out with a ball over the top but the Colombian striker could only send his shot the wrong side of the post.

Barcelona had most of the possession early on but it was the away side on the break that were creating the chances. They finally took the lead when Diego Costa pick-pocketed Lionel Messi and played a ball over the top to Falcao, who chipped Victor Valdes with a fine little dink that rolled into the back of the net.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball the home side were unable to break the Atletico defence down until Adriano let fly with a superb curling effort from the edge of the box leaving Courtois with no chance

After the goal, Barcelona started to turn the screw with both Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta bringing saves out of Courtois. They finally took their chance with Busquets taking advantage of some poor defending from the away side, following a Xavi corner, as he poked home from close range.

The home side took up where they left off after the restart, as now full of confidence, they were able to play their passing game while continuing to threaten their opponent’s goal.

And it came as no surprise when Messi, who had been pretty anonymous up to this point, let fly with a shot from the edge of the box which found the bottom corner of the net, leaving Courtois again with no chance.

As the game went on Atletico’s performance levels began to drop with Barcelona’s passing tiring them out. The away side were a shadow of their first-half selves.

The Catalan club continued to probe the opposition’s defence and came close to making it four when Busquets teed up Iniesta on the edge of the box, only for his effort to take a deflection and canon off Courtois’ legs.

With the game having pretty much been over for some time Messi added gloss to the victory with his second just minutes from the end, as he took advantage of some sloppy play from Atletico before clipping the ball over Courtois.

The result means Barcelona’s best ever start to a La Liga season continues and with Real Madrid dropping more points just hours earlier, the fans had plenty to smile about as they departed the Camp Nou at full time.

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