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Barcelona beat Huesca 1-0 on Sunday when Lionel Messi became the first foreigner to play 500 Spanish La Liga games, while a late goal from Luis Suarez secured leaders Atletico Madrid’s victory against Alaves.
Messi returned for Barca after missing the final game of 2020 with an ankle blow and swung a cross for Frenkie de Jong to score the only home goal on 27 minutes.
Although Ronald Koeman’s side started a potentially season-defining run of four away games in a row with a comfortable win, they remain in fifth place 10 points behind Atletico after playing one more game.
Barca dominated possession and opened up a number of chances, but Huesca goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez made several good saves to keep the hosts in touch.
After De Jong’s opener, Messi was denied a second just before half-time when Fernandez made an excellent save with his free kick towards the top corner.
The Argentine was again thwarted by Fernandez in the second half after combining well with Pedri shortly after Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacted sharply to keep Rafa Mir’s inventive back away.
That was a rare threat to Huesca, which has only won once in 17 attempts this season but has stolen points from most of the visitors to its Estadio El Alcoraz, including Atletico in September.
Earlier in the day, Suarez scored in the 90. Minute a winner for Atletico when they defeated 10-man Alaves 2-1 and retreated at the top again over Real Madrid.
Marcos Llorente gave Atletico the lead with a deflected hit from outside the box just before the break in Mendizorroza.
Diego Simeone’s side appeared to be in control of the game when Alaves defender Victor Laguardia was sent off an hour after a VAR review for knocking Thomas Lemar down as the Frenchman ran towards goal.
Florian Lejeune headed the post for Alaves before a spectacular own goal in the 84. Minute from Felipe Atletico threatened to cost two important points. The Brazilian center-back pushed past Jan Oblak as he tried to clear an attempted cross.
Suarez, however, secured Atletico’s fourth straight win in the last minute as the Uruguayan hit from close range after substitute Joao Felix shot the ball over the net.
« The best part is how the team finished, didn’t get nervous, just played. And the goal was a great goal, « said Simeone.
Atletico climbed two points ahead of Real Madrid and have two games against the defending champions.
Athletic Bilbao sacked coach Gaizka Garitano after a 1-0 home win over Elche. Reports in Spain linked former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde to the vacant job.
Real Sociedad lost more ground to the top two after only drawing 1-1 at home to Osasuna, while teenage Bryan Gil scored both goals in Eibar’s 2-0 loss to Granada.
FC Barcelona, SD Huesca, La Liga, Lionel Messi, Frenkie de Jong, Ronald Koeman
EbeneMagazine – USA – Barca triumphs as Messi for the 500th. Time in the league – RFI
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