La Liga: Barcelona wins late, Atleti strengthens hold on third

Barcelona Athletic Bilbao
Photo by Xavi B. / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images
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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.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 31 21 5 5 70 31 39 15-1-0 6-4-5 68
 Real Madrid 30 19 8 3 57 21 36 11-4-0 8-4-3 65
 Atlético Madrid 31 14 13 4 39 22 17 9-5-1 5-8-3 55
 Sevilla 31 14 11 6 44 32 12 7-6-2 7-5-4 53
 Getafe 31 13 10 8 40 29 11 7-6-3 6-4-5 49
 Villarreal 31 14 6 11 49 40 9 7-5-3 7-1-8 48
 Real Sociedad 30 14 5 11 47 38 9 8-3-4 6-2-7 47
 València 30 12 10 8 41 43 -2 9-7-0 3-3-8 46
 Granada 31 12 7 12 37 36 1 9-2-4 3-5-8 43
 Athletic Club 31 10 12 9 33 27 6 8-4-3 2-8-6 42
 Levante 31 11 5 15 37 44 -7 7-4-4 4-1-11 38
 Osasuna 30 8 11 11 35 46 -11 5-5-5 3-6-6 35
 Alavés 30 9 8 13 31 45 -14 7-5-3 2-3-10 35
 Betis 30 8 10 12 40 48 -8 7-4-4 1-6-8 34
 Valladolid 31 7 13 11 26 36 -10 3-9-3 4-4-8 34
 Celta Vigo 30 6 12 12 28 35 -7 5-5-5 1-7-7 30
 Eibar 30 7 8 15 31 47 -16 6-2-7 1-6-8 29
 Mallorca 30 7 5 18 29 50 -21 6-3-7 1-2-11 26
 Leganés 31 5 10 16 23 44 -21 4-4-8 1-6-8 25
 Espanyol 30 5 9 16 26 49 -23 2-5-8 3-4-8 24