The phrase “better lucky than good” can still apply on occasion to the best player in the world.
[ MORE: Messi contract details, transfer rumors ]
On a day that Lionel Messi registered five key passes, a lucky bounce off his shin set up Ivan Rakitic up for Barca’s breakthrough to send the reigning champions back atop the table.
Atletico Madrid also won on Tuesday, while Getafe’s UCL hopes took a big hit with a surprising draw at Real Valladolid.
Barcelona 1-0 Athletic Bilbao
A fortuitous bounce turned into a Lionel Messi assist and Ivan Rakitic goal as Barcelona responded to Real Madrid’s Monday win with a 1-0 win against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
Real hosts Mallorca on Wednesday and can retake the table advantage with a win.
The Blaugranas appeared snakebit again days after drawing Sevilla 0-0 and handing control of La Liga’s title race to Real, who has the first tiebreaker after taking four of six Clasico points this year.
[ MORE: Run-ins for Barcelona, Real ]
Barca outshot Athletic 18-6 and Messi was again a force, four of his five key passes leading to squandered opportunities before Rakitic’s moment. Quique Setien is going to ride Messi, who’s gone 90 minutes four times in 11 days.
Messi might’ve run onto the bounce anyway, but it was the Croatian super sub who got the match-winner with his first goal of the season.
Levante 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Sitting an unsightly sixth heading into the coronavirus pause, Diego Simeone’s men have now claimed 10 of 12 available points while allowing just two goals and scoring eight.
Tuesday’s goal came via a Bruno Gonzalez own goal, sending Atleti two points clear of Sevilla and six ahead of fifth-place Getafe.
Don’t doubt Diego’s ability to find a place in the UCL.
Real Valladolid 1-1 Getafe
A setback for the visitors and a firm step toward safety for the hosts, as Valladolid is now eight points clear of the drop zone and Getafe slips four points back of the top four. Jaime Mata gave Getafe a 41st-minute lead, but Enes Unal scored his sixth of the season before halftime.
La Liga: Barcelona wins late, Atleti strengthens hold on third originally appeared on NBCSports.com