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Monday, 30 November 2020

Atletico beat Barcelona in league for 1st time in a decade

AP , Sunday 22 Nov 2020
Yannick Carrasco
Atletico Madrid's Belgian midfielder Yannick Carrasco (R) challenges Barcelona's German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen before scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona (AFP)
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Yannick Carrasco scored after defensive blunders as Atletico Madrid ended a decade-long winless streak against Barcelona in the Spanish league with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.

"We are very happy to have won, it had been a long time without a victory against Barca,'' Carrasco said.

As well as the match, Barcelona also lost captain Gerard Pique due to a bad right-leg injury early in the second half.

The win gave Atletico a nine-point advantage over Barcelona after eight matches. Diego Simeone's team is level with Real Sociedad at the top of the standings with 20 points and has a game in hand. Sociedad visits promoted Cadiz on Sunday.

Barcelona dropped to 10th place, staying with 11 points.

Carrasco netted the winner after mistakes by both Pique and goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Pique lost possession near midfield and Ter Stegen unsuccessfully came far out of his area to try to intercept a pass to Carrasco. The Belgium midfielder neatly slipped the ball between Ter Stegen's legs to set himself up for a shot from long range into the open net.

Atletico hadn't beaten Barcelona in the league since a 2-1 win in February 2010 at the now-demolished Vicente Calderon Stadium. The teams had played 20 matches since then, with Barcelona winning 14 times.

Barcelona had been the last team to beat Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the Spanish capital, winning 1-0 last December in the Spanish league. Atletico is now unbeaten in 19 matches at the venue.

Atletico extended its unbeaten run in the league to 24 matches. Its last league loss was against city rival Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in February.

The game was supposed to be Luis Suarez's first match against Barcelona since being let go by new coach Ronald Koeman and signing with Atletico. But he couldn't play after testing positive for COVID-19 while with Uruguay's national team. Newly signed Atletico midfielder Lucas Torreira also couldn't play after a positive test result with Uruguay.

Barcelona was without veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets because of a knee injury sustained while playing with Spain in the Nations League.

Pique had to leave the match in the 63rd with what appeared to be a bad knee injury after Atletico forward Angel Correa fell into his right leg. Pique's knee bent inward and he had to be helped off the field. He struggled to walk and looked in a lot of pain, often putting his hands to his face.

Barcelona's Sergi Roberto also appeared to be injured when he left near the end of the match.

Barcelona started controlling possession but Atletico had the most dangerous chances early on. Ter Stegen saved well against Saul Niguez's shot in the fifth minute, and Marcos Llorente hit the crossbar from close range in the 12th.

Lionel Messi put in a lackluster performance but had one of Barcelona's best chances in the 41st after a nice pass from Jordi Alba. The Argentina playmaker had his angled shot saved by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Messi also missed from a free kick later in the second half.

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet had his close-range header saved by Oblak early in the second half.

"We knew it was a difficult match here,'' Barcelona's Pedri said. ``We didn't do well up front and they scored at the end of the first half, that was tough for us mentally.''

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