Madrid: Lionel Messi came off the bench to inspire Barcelona to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (centre) scores against Atletico Madrid at Madrid's Vicente Calderon on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Messi had been left out of the starting line-up after missing a day of training this week for the birth of his second child — but his introduction on the hour made an immediate impression.
Barcelona fell behind to a Fernando Torres opener early in the second half but Neymar's free-kick immediately levelled the scores before the Argentinian stepped up to seal victory 13 minutes from time. Both sides went into the game with unbeaten records and having not conceded a goal in their opening two Primera Division matches.
Atletico had followed up an opening-day win over Las Palmas with an impressive 3-0 triumph at Sevilla last Sunday, while Barcelona eked out 1-0 victories over Athletic Bilbao and Malaga respectively.
And the visitors had the better of an untidy opening spell with Luis Suarez somehow contriving to fire against the bar from point-blank range after getting a touch on an inswinging Ivan Rakitic corner. Neither side did much more to threaten before the break.
But the game burst into live five minutes into the second period when Torres burst onto a first-time pass from Tiago before planting the ball firmly past visiting keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
The hosts' lead lasted less than four minutes before Barcelona were level, Neymar bending a delicious free-kick past Jan Oblak and into the top corner of the net from 25 yards.