Lionel Messi netted a superb double as Barcelona came from a goal down to secure a 4-1 win at rain-lashed Sevilla on Sunday that lifted the champions back to the top of La Liga.
Barca’s defeat at home to Valencia last weekend meant they surrendered the lead for the first time since the beginning of last season and allowed Atletico Madrid to climb above them into first place.
Atletico crashed to a shock 2-0 reverse at promoted Almeria on Saturday and Real Madrid, 4-2 winners at home to Villarreal, were the overnight leaders.
Barca’s victory at the Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville means the top three all have 57 points with 15 matches left, with Barca leading Real on goal difference and Atletico in third.
Barca started shakily on a foul night in Andalusia and looked in trouble when Alberto Moreno’s deflected shot put Sevilla ahead in the 15th minute.
Soon, Alexis Sanchez levelled with a header from a Messi free kick in the 34th minute.
Messi, who looks to be getting back into his stride after a two-month injury layoff, fired Barca ahead with a typically brilliant effort 10 minutes later, and fired in another in the 56th minute.
Andres Iniesta skipped through the centre and fed the Argentina forward, who took one touch before sidefooting in off a post.
Cesc Fabregas came off the bench and scored a delightful dinked effort to finish off a move he started two minutes from time.
real WELL SET
Real Madrid are poised to secure their places in April’s King’s Cup final on Tuesday. Real, who have claimed the trophy 18 times and are third on the all-time list behind Athletic Bilbao with 23, have a 3-0 cushion before their trip across the capital to play holders Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.