Lionel Messi kept FC Barcelona in contention of La Liga with a late winner to see off the title challenge of league rivals Atletico Madrid.
In spite of tawdry performances reminiscent of Paris and Leganes, Barca took the lead in the second half through Rafinha when Luis Suarez — who had an effort ruled out — took a shot which bounced off two defenders to land at his feet.
But Atletico got their equalizer when Diego Godin levelled when he headed home Koke’s free-kick less than ten minutes later.
Barca needed Messi to quickly pounce on a loose ball in the box at the 86th minute to win the game for the champions, after his initial effort was blocked by defender Stefan Savic.
The Catalan team led briefly in La Liga before Real Madrid went back to the top of the table by one point later in the day when they came back from 2-0 down to beat Villarreal 3-2. Real still have a game in hand over Barca and Sevilla.
On the other hand, Atletico Madrid are nine points off Barca and 10 off Real. The 2014 title winners looked well out of the title race at the end of 2016.
However, a run of eight La Liga games without a defeat this year, including six wins, had given them an outside chance of mounting a late challenge — but now it looks like it will be a bridge too far for them.