Guardiola hails "leadership" of Barcelona matchwinner Messi

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

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.”

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