FC Barcelona forward Ferran Torres struck late in the first half to secure a 1-0 victory over third-placed Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The home side tightened their grip on top spot and moved a step closer to their 27th La Liga title.
With eight games remaining, FC Barcelona moved to 76 points and extended their lead to 11 points over second-placed Real Madrid, while Atletico remained third on 60 points.
FC Barcelona ended Atletico’s 13-game unbeaten league run thanks to a goal on the counter in the 44th minute and a fine performance by Marc Andre ter Stegen who made spectacular reflex saves from point-blank strikes by Antoine Griezmann, one in each half.
“The team worked well, the fans supported us and we won, that’s what matters.
“This victory gives us a lot of confidence going forward. Atletico were on a good run and in good shape, so that makes this win even more important for us,” Torres told reporters.
FC Barcelona, who had struggled in their last three matches in all competitions without scoring, were dominated by Atletico early in the game.
The visitors, who were on a six-game winning streak, sent the first warning early as Griezmann took advantage of poor control by Sergio Busquets on the edge of the area and unleashed an angled shot that crashed against the crossbar.
However, FC Barcelona gradually became more aggressive and took control of the game, with striker Robert Lewandowski wasting two great chances midway through the first half.
Just as FC Barcelona looked in full control, Atletico almost scored on a counter-attack led by Yannick Carrasco who ran down the left and put in a low cross for Griezmann, whose close-range strike was brilliantly stopped by Ter Stegen.
FC Barcelona got the winner when Raphinha controlled a long ball down the right channel and crossed to the edge of the area where Torres calmly slotted past goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
It was an entertaining match after the break with both teams missing several chances, including another outstanding save by Ter Stegen from a Griezmann strike and a sitter missed by Lewandowski when he was one-on-one with Oblak.