Barcelona outclass Atletico in win to climb second

rugby17 March 2024 22:20| © AFP

Robert Lewandowski inspired Barcelona to a 3-0 triumph at Atletico Madrid on Sunday to keep their faint LaLiga title hopes alive.

Lewandowski set up goals for Joao Felix and Fermin Lopez either side of striking himself to pull Barcelona second, eight points behind leaders Real Madrid.

The resurgent Catalans, who reached the Champions League quarterfinals this week, became the first team to beat Atletico at the Metropolitano stadium this season.

Barcelona were the last team to win at Atletico in the top flight too, with Diego Simeone's team going 25 matches without defeat in between.

They crumbled against Xavi Hernandez's side, who now have five consecutive wins over Atletico and are unbeaten in 10 matches since the coach said he would leave at the end of the season.

Barcelona moved two points clear of third-placed Girona, while Atletico are now fifth, after Athletic Bilbao moved above them on Saturday.

Spanish champions Barcelona lined up with Hector Fort at left-back as Joao Cancelo had a knock, while Andreas Christensen felt discomfort in the warm-up and was replaced by Lopez.

It meant Ilkay Gundogan dropped to the holding midfield role and Barcelona had to face Atletico without the balance the Dane has brought there in recent weeks, adding to the absences of Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Gavi.

Atletico played 120 minutes on Wednesday against Inter Milan on their way to the Champions League quarterfinals and although Barcelona saw off Napoli a day before, it was Simeone's side who started sharper.

Pablo Barrios spurned a good early chance for the Rojiblancos, firing wide when well placed.

Barcelona's 17-year-old defender Pau Cubarsi, recently called into the Spain squad for the first time, did well to block an Alvaro Morata effort.

However, it was Barcelona who took the lead after 38 minutes, against the run of play, when they put a slick move together for the first time in the match.

Gundogan glided forward from midfield and found Lewandowski, who squared for on-loan forward Felix to turn home against his parent club.

The Portuguese striker scored the only goal when the teams met in December and again proved a thorn in Atletico's side while being whistled by home fans throughout.


Xavi was dismissed before the break for dissent but his team kicked on regardless in the second half.

Simeone sent on Antoine Griezmann and Memphis Depay, searching for more spark in the final third.

Lewandowski quickly doubled Barcelona's lead with a lethal finish, after Rodrigo de Paul gave the ball away in a dangerous area.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a superb save to deny Marcos Llorente and almost created Barcelona's third goal, but Lewandowski hooked a shot wide after running on to his accurate long pass.

Atletico were starting to tire after their midweek exploits and Barcelona capitalised.

Lopez headed home after Lewandowski set him up with an inch-perfect cross, with the veteran Polish striker offering one of his best performances for the club since joining in 2022.

The goal capped a superb week for Lopez, who also scored in the win over Napoli.

Barcelona brought on midfielder Marc Casado, 20, in the final stages for his La Liga debut as they saw out their impressive victory against 10 men -- Atletico's Nahuel Molina was sent off for bringing down Vitor Roque late on.