By Michael Hincks
Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Late Lionel Messi goal sinks hosts on Antoine Griezmann's return
Last Updated: 01/12/19 10:22pm
Lionel Messi struck late for Barcelona as Antoine Griezmann's return to Atletico Madrid ended in a dramatic 1-0 victory.
Griezmann's first game in Madrid since leaving Atletico for Barcelona dominated proceedings going into the match, but it was Messi who stole the headlines on the eve of the Ballon d'Or announcement.
A couple of inspired Marc-Andre ter Stegen saves initially kept Atletico at bay, with Messi then stroking home in the 86th minute to hand Barcelona all three points.
Victory sends Barcelona top of La Liga ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference, while Atletico Madrid slip to sixth after Athletic Bilbao's win earlier on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (6), Trippier (7), Felipe (6), Hermoso (7), Saul (6), Correa (6), Herrera (7), Thomas (6), Koke (7), Joao Felix (5), Morata (6)
Subs: Vitolo (6), Lemar (6), Lodi (N/A)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (8), S. Roberto (7), Lenglet (7), Pique (6), Junior (6), Rakitic (6), Arthur (6), De Jong (7), Griezmann (6), Messi (7), Suarez (6)
Subs: Vidal (6), Umtiti (N/A)
Man of the match: Ter Stegen
How Ter Stegen teed up Barca win
Atletico dominated the first half but Ter Stegen ensured it remained 0-0 at the break.
After Mario Hermoso's cross was deflected onto the post, the defender was denied by a spectacular point-blank save from Ter Stegen, who also produced an incredible reflex stop to keep out Alvaro Morata's header.
The closest Barcelona went to an opener in the first half was when Gerard Pique's header bounced onto the top of the bar.
Griezmann was one of three Barca changes, with the Frenchman starting after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for 10 weeks. Arthur and Gerard Pique also returned to the starting XI.
Atletico made two changes from the side that lost at Juventus in midweek, with Joao Felix and Angel Correa in for Renan Lodi and Vitolo.
After the break, the chances were few and far between, with Jan Oblak making a couple of routine saves to deny Messi and Luis Suarez.
With 20 minutes to go, Pique somehow escaped a second yellow card when bringing down Morata, who also saw a flick cleared off the line by Sergi Roberto.
And with the tie seemingly heading for a draw, Messi rounded off a fine flowing move when stroking the ball past Oblak with four minutes of normal time left on the clock.
The forward will turn his attention to picking up a sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday, with the forward vying with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk for football's biggest individual prize.
Man of the match - Marc-Andre ter Stegen
A simple choice following his vital first-half saves from Hermoso and Morata. It's easy to give Messi the plaudits for the late strike, but the man potentially picking up another Ballon d'Or on Monday will be thanking his goalkeeper tonight.
Atletico travel to Villarreal on Friday before hosting Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on December 11. With one game to go in the groups, Atleti are second, one point above Leverkusen who host Juventus on the same evening.
Barca welcome Mallorca to the Nou Camp on Saturday, and then face a midweek trip to Inter on December 10, having already wrapped up first in Group F.