It was yet another Lionel Messi special that rescued FC Barcelona when they faced off their Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday.

Messi scored in the 86th minute to hand Barca a 1-0 victory, silencing the local fans present in the Metropolitano Stadium. The win also helped Barca reclaim the top spot in the points table with 31 points as they pushed Real Madrid to the second place on goal difference, while Atletico with 25 points slipped to sixth.

It was Messi’s 30th goal in 39 competitive games and that inflicted a first home defeat for Diego Simeone’s side since they were beaten by Real Madrid in February.

In the 86th minute, Messi cut inside, he went 1-2 with Luis Suarez before, he guided the ball into the bottom corner to score in what was his 701st match for FC Barcelona. The reigning champions also have to thank their goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for making many superb saves.

Appreciating the presence of Messi in his team, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said, "Whenever you have a game like this which is really tight and really tough, being able to count on Messi is always an advantage."

"I liked it all. You have to watch matches from your team's point of view. We suffered at the start and we got the three points, we won't think about the bad now," Valverde spoke about Barca's performance in a post-match interview on Sunday.

Messi is expected to win a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday
Lionel Messi scores against Atletico Madrid on Sunday AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS

Meanwhile, the home side also expressed they were unhappy because the referee did not give a yellow card to Barcelona's Gerard Pique in the second half for a late tackle on Alvaro Morata.

"We feel very hard done by. We played superbly and Barcelona had hardly any chances but when Messi appears he is capable of doing anything and he made it look so easy, that’s why he is the best," Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez said.

Atletico, however, were lucky too when the referee ignored when their defender Vitolo inflicted a vicious challenge when he slammed into Pique's knee just minutes after receiving an earlier booking.