sport news Ernesto Valverde heaps praise on Lionel Messi as Barcelona defeat rivals ...

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'When your opponents are strong having Messi is always a great advantage': Ernesto Valverde heaps praise on match-winner as Barcelona defeat rivals Atletico Madrid Ernesto Valverde talked up the importance of having Lionel Messi in his side  Messi once again came to Barca's rescued and sealed a late, crucial victory  The Catalan side have gone joint top of La Liga with fierce rivals   Messi is favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or which is announced on Monday 

By Pa Sport Staff

Published: 00:14 GMT, 2 December 2019 | Updated: 00:14 GMT, 2 December 2019

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde talked up the importance of having Lionel Messi in his side after the forward netted the winner in the 1-0 victory at Atletico Madrid.

Barca rode their luck in the first half, seeing the hosts hit the post and bring two fine saves out of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

But they punished Atletico's failure to take their chances five minutes from time courtesy of Messi, who played a neat one-two with Luis Suarez on the edge of the area before coolly side-footing into the bottom corner.

Lionel Messi has been hailed by Ernesto Valverde after once again saving Barcelona

Lionel Messi has been hailed by Ernesto Valverde after once again saving Barcelona

Valverde watched on as a piece of Messi magic saw Barca get three points from Atletico

Valverde watched on as a piece of Messi magic saw Barca get three points from Atletico

The Argentinian's first league strike at the Wanda Metropolitano took Barca top of LaLiga on

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