It was the visitors who manufactured the first sighting of goal when Nahuel Molina’s effort was cleared off the line by Ronald Araújo, before Xavi’s side went straight up the other end and missed a golden chance through Robert Lewandowski, who uncharacteristically headed wide from six yards.
The Polish hitman didn’t quite have his radar tuned in correctly in the opening stages, and he again wasted an opportunity when he blasted wide from Jules Koundé’s pinpoint delivery.
Barça didn’t have to wait too much longer for the opener though, and the man who got it was certainly a man Atlético knew well. Thrust into the wilderness by former boss Diego Simeone, scoring against his former club will have felt that little bit sweeter for João Félix, whose delicate lob earned the Catalan club their just rewards.
His strike prompted an iconic celebration on the advertising hoardings in front of the travelling Atlético contingent, and while you’d have expected that to fuel the fire in the visitors’ bellies, it didn’t really have that effect on them.
It certainly had the desired effect for Barcelona, who came out after the break keen to add a second to their tally in search of killing the game off - a goal that so nearly arrived shortly before the hour mark when Raphinha’s effort crashed back off the post.
Simeone certainly wasn’t happy with what he was seeing, evidenced by the fact he’d used all five of his allotted substitutes by the 66th minute. Unfortunately for him, none of the players he introduced had the desired effect, not even former Barça man Memphis Depay.
It wasn’t for the want of trying on Depay’s part, but after he unleashed an absolute rocket of a free-kick that was destined for the top corner, a stunning Iñaki Peña Sotorres stop tipped his effort onto the woodwork.
That proved to be the closest Los Colchoneros came to finding a leveller, as Barcelona held on to secure three points that keeps them within striking distance of the top two. Atlético still remain in the mix, and with a game in hand, they still hold a trump card.
Flashscore Man of the Match: João Félix (Barcelona)