Barcelona needed Lionel Messi to rescue the three points in victory at Atletico Madrid.

Messi's stunning free-kick nine minutes from time handed Barcelona a hard-fought 2-1 Primera Division victory over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

The Argentina forward had a goal ruled out early on for handball but played a part as Dani Alves opened the scoring eight minutes before half-time.

Atletico levelled just after the break as Radamel Falcao Garcia turned in Gabi's corner and the Colombian had a great chance to give Los Rojiblancos the lead on 69 minutes but was denied by a fine save from Victor Valdes.

And Valdes was to come to the rescue again after Messi had put the European champions back in front, blocking Juanfran's effort from point-blank range in the final minute.

"There are different types of leadership. When things get complicated, Messi takes a step forward. Throughout these past four years, this player has always done that," said coach Pep Guardiola afterwards.

"Also, Victor once again showed that he's a quality keeper."