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Felix fires Barcelona to narrow win over Atletico Madrid

Barcelona, Spain, ​​Dec 3 (EFE).- Barcelona maintained pace with table-toppers Real Madrid and Girona in the La Liga campaign with a crucial 1-0 win over Atletico de Madrid at home on Sunday.

Portuguese striker Joao Felix capped a fine first-half performance for the hosts with the winning goal in the 28th minute to take revenge against a club that retained his rights but made him surplus to requirements.

The defending champions heaved a sigh of relief when goalkeeper Inaki Pena made two brilliant saves in dying minutes, making only his third start of the season for injured Ter Stegen.

The three points from the match took Barcelona’s tally to 34, leapfrogging Atletico to third place.

Real and Girona share the top spots with 38 points, while Atletico, who are without a win at Barcelona in 24 consecutive visits, slipped to fourth place with 31 points.

Both coaches repeated the formula that sealed their passage to the round of 16 in the Champions League this week, although Xavi was forced to bring on Andreas Christensen instead of Inigo Martinez, who had been suffering from some discomfort in the heat.

The Blaugrana coach also positioned Ronald Araujo at the center and put Jules Kounde at the right, a formula that worked for the side in the 2-1 win against Porto in midweek.

With Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, and İlkay Gundogan all shining in the midfield, Barcelona produced one of their best performances of the season in the first half, if not the best.

Atletico were never comfortable on the pitch and relied on isolated attacks from Nahuel Molina, Antoine Griezmann, and Mario Hermoso to challenge the superiority of the Blaugrana.

Felix responded to the recent criticism of Saul Níguez and Griezmann, who questioned his work ethics, with a subtle left-footed shot that nestled in beating goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

After being dominated by Barça for a large part of the game, Atletico finally came to terms in the last quarter of the game, making a few dangerous moves that Pena saved much to the relief of some 35,000 home fans. EFE

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