Atletico Madrid moved 9 points clear of Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday after beating them 1-0 to gain a major boost to their hopes of lifting the title, after Real Madrid drew with Villarreal.
Yannick Carrasco finished brilliantly from range after mistakes from Gerard Pique and Marc-Andre ter Stegen left the goal gaping but Barca, and a below-par Lionel Messi, failed to respond at the Wanda Metropolitano.
All things being equal, Atletico recorded their first triumph over Barcelona in 10 years, which puts them three focuses in front of Real Madrid, with a game close by, and leaves their opponents moping in tenth.
Diego Simeone’s men sit second in the table, level on points with early leaders Real Sociedad.
And beating Barcelona in La Liga for the first time since 2010 — before Simeone arrived as coach — will do wonders for the team’s belief and extends what is now a considerable advantage in the table.
It also extends Atletico’s unbeaten run in the league to 24 matches.
Another disappointing day for Barca was soured further by the sight of Pique hobbling off in tears with what looked a knee injury.
Pique was hurt during a collision with Angel Correa and was in distress as he departed.
Antoine Griezmann almost put Barca in front against his old club while Marcos Llorente went closest for Atletico, skimming the crossbar after a neat exchange between Kieran Trippier and Correa down the right.