BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Atlético Madrid strengthened its status as the early front-runner in the Spanish league title race on Saturday after beating Barcelona and watching Real Madrid fall further behind.

Under coach Diego Simeone, Atlético knew what it was like to beat Barcelona in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but it had been denied a victory over Lionel Messi’s side in the domestic league in 20 consecutive attempts.

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