Dembele strike gives Barcelona narrow win over Atletico
MADRID: Ousmane Dembele’s strike sent Barcelona three points clear at the top of La Liga with a tense 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Earlier David Silva produced a masterclass to help third place Real Sociedad beat Almeria 2-0, while Real Betis moved fourth with an entertaining 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano.
Struggling Sevilla earned a crucial 2-1 win over Getafe to climb out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Capitalising on champion Real Madrid’s defeat by Villarreal, Barcelona set out to make a statement victory over Atletico at the Metropolitano.
Shorn of suspended top scorer Robert Lewandowski, Xavi selected Ansu Fati up front in his place, but it was Dembele who made the difference, finishing a slick move in the 22nd minute.
Atletico ramped up the pressure, with the superb Ronald Araujo clearing off the line from Antoine Griezmann at the death, but Diego Simeone’s side could not find an equaliser.
Both teams finished with 10 men after Ferran Torres and Stefan Savic were sent off for brawling with each other on the floor as tempers soured.
“It’s a win, but it’s not just three points. It gives us morale and confidence for what’s left of the league,” Xavi told reporters.
Results: Atletico Madrid 0 lost to Barcelona 1 (Dembele 22); Almeria 0 lost to Real Sociedad 2 (Silva 47, Sorloth 53); Sevilla 2 (Acuna 36, Mir 80) bt Getafe 1 (Mayoral 87); Rayo Vallecano 1 (Camello 20) lost to Real Betis 2 (Balliu 7-og, Henrique 40)