MADRID: Barcelona opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Primera Division with a 2-1 victory over nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who had two men sent off at the Nou Camp.
Coach Luis Enrique’s side secured an eighth straight win despite Koke rewarding Atletico’s strong start with a 10th-minute goal.
Barcelona, who also have a game in hand on Atletico, were ahead by half-time with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on target and the visitors reduced to 10 men by Filipe Luis’ red card.
And Atletico were down to nine men when Diego Godin was sent off after 65 minutes for a rash challenge on his fellow Uruguayan Suarez.
Koke pounced on some sloppy defensive play to beat Bravo from 10 yards and Augusto Fernandez came close to doubling the lead but the league leaders equalised after half an hour.
Jordi Alba pulled the ball back into the path of Messi, who finished in composed fashion for his 21st goal of the season.
Eight minutes later Dani Alves’ pass sprang the Atletico offside trap and Suarez squeezed home from the tightest of angles for his 31st goal of the season and 19th in the league.
Atletico were a man down when Brazil international Filipe Luis was guilty of a dreadful tackle on Messi and their cause turned into a hopeless one when Godin took out Suarez near the corner flag.