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Barcelona beat Atletico 4-1 to go nine clear in La Liga

Published on Dec 17, 2012 6:20 AM
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Dec 16, 2012. -- PHOTO : AF

MADRID (REUTERS) - Leaders Barcelona struck a potentially decisive blow in the La Liga title race when Lionel Messi scored twice in a 4-1 win at home to second-placed Atletico Madrid to move nine points clear at the top on Sunday.

The victory moved Barca 13 points ahead of ailing champions Real Madrid, who were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw at home by lowly Espanyol.

Tito Vilanova's unbeaten leaders fought back after Radamel Falcao gave Atletico a deserved lead. A magnificent strike from Adriano levelled the scores, and Sergio Busquets and a second-half brace from Messi completed the scoring.

Barca have 46 points from 16 games, Atletico have 37 and Real 33.

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