Saturday September 24, 2011 (21.00 UK)
Villa 9, Miranda (og) 15, Messi 26, 78, 90
Camp Nou, Barcelona
After their midweek draw away to Valencia, Pep Guardiola’s team returned to winning ways in emphatic style against an Atletico Madrid side that struggled to create any chances.
Gregorio Manzano watched his side take the initiative in the early stages as midfielder Tiago Mendes hit the bar in the third minute after a quick break. However, they soon found themselves behind as David Villa scored in the ninth minute. Xavi’s cross-field pass released the striker, who showed good composure as he slotted the ball past the oncoming Thibaut Courtois.
Barca doubled their lead five minutes later after some contentious build-up led to a Miranda own goal. Lionel Messi could have been seen as offside and active, but the linesman did not flag and Pedro’s persistence meant the ball fell to Messi, whose shot hit Courtois and rebounded off Miranda and in.
Barcelona had their third ten minutes later after very poor defending from Atletico let Messi freely dribble into their box after a throw in on the right hand side. Courtois will perhaps feel he could have done better with the Argentinean’s shot, which beat him at his near post. The Catalan club went into half time firmly in control. Atletico had struggled to win the ball, maintain possession and create any real chances for the isolated Radamel Falcao.
The second half started in much the same way as the first ended. Atletico tried to press forward, but indecisiveness when playing the final ball meant they never really had a clear opportunity. Barcelona continued to create, with Messi and Villa both having chances to increase their goal tally, but the busy Courtois saved both their efforts. However the Atletico keeper was powerless to stop Messi’s second goal in the 77th minute. His wonderful individual effort showed him to be too quick for the opposition defenders, and his shot was too well placed to be saved.
Atletico’s best chance of the game came in the last five minutes when Adrian was put through one on one with Valdes. However, because the ball had slightly too much pace on it, his shot was tame and smothered by the keeper.
Messi completed his hat trick in the last minute of normal time after a nice one-two with Villa on the edge of the box put him in on goal. He fired his shot between the legs of Courtois and capped off a very confident performance from Barcelona.
Barcelona (3-4-3): Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Abidal (Maxwell 90); Fabregas (Keita 72), Xavi, Busquets (Pique 54), Thiago; Pedro, Messi, Villa
Unused subs: Pinto, Fontas, Adriano, Puyol
Atletico Madrid (4-3-2-1): Courtois; Perea, Miranda, Godin, Lopez; Tiago (Adrian 79), Suarez (Turan 45), Gabi; Reyes (Salvio 45), Falcao, Diego
Unused subs: Dominguez, Juanfran, Asenjo, Luis
Did you know… There have been 28 goals in the last six matches between these two sides, Barcelona having scored 19 of them (via @soccerway).