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