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10-man Barcelona secures impressive win against Atletico Madrid

MADRID -- Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid had it all, as Barca won 4-2 in the Spanish league despite playing more than 20 minutes with 10 men after Dani Alves was sent off on Sunday.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

The result ended Barcelona’s five-game winless streak against Atletico in all competitions and allowed the Catalan club to overtake Diego Simeone’s team for fourth place in the league. Barcelona returned to the Champions League qualification spots for the first time since the third round.

Barcelona conceded early but rallied to a 4-1 lead before Atletico threatened to get back into the game. Luis Suarez - playing in front of Barcelona fans at the Camp Nou Stadium for the first time since joining Atletico - scored in the 58th minute and Alves was sent off with a straight red card in the 69th after video review saw him stepping on Yannick Carrasco’s leg from behind.

Xavi’s new era begins?

Barcelona hadn’t beaten Atletico since a league match in December 2019. It had gone 11 consecutive matches without defeating either Atletico or Real Madrid in any competition. Atletico hasn’t beaten Barcelona at the Camp Nou since 2006.

Atletico, which paid the price for an unusually dreadful performance by its defense, was coming off a league win over Valencia but had lost its previous three matches in all competitions.

[ MORE: Aubameyang joins Barcelona ]

Barcelona entered the game one point behind Atletico in the standings. It trails third-place Real Betis by two points and second-place Sevilla by nine points. The Catalan club is 12 points behind league leader Real Madrid.

“It was an important match and we are glad we got the victory to get back into the Champions League places,” said Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo, who scored one of the goals for the hosts.

Wild clash had it all

Both teams got off to a fast start and created back-and-forth scoring opportunities, but it was Atletico that got on the board first after Suarez set up Carrasco’s shot from inside the area in the eighth minute.

Barcelona equalized two minutes later with a superb volley from Jordi Alba from one of the corners of the area, sending the ball over goalkeeper Jan Oblak following a cross by Alves.

Gavi Paez put the hosts ahead with a header in the 21st after a cross by Adama Traore, and Araujo added to the lead from close range off the rebound of Gerard Pique’s header that hit the crossbar.

Alves scored his first goal since returning to Barcelona with a low strike from inside the area in the 49th before Suarez pulled Atletico closer with a header about 10 minutes later. Suarez didn’t celebrate after the goal and gestured to Barcelona fans for forgiveness by putting his hands together.

Traore, Aubameyang debut

Traore made his debut after returning to Barcelona on loan from Wolverhampton until the end of the season. Forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, signed at the end of the transfer window, replaced Traore in the 61st.

Ousmane Dembele, who was included in Xavi Hernandez’s squad despite his refusal to sign a new contract or secure a move to a new club in the transfer window, stayed on the bench.

Daniel Wass and Reinildo Mandava made their debut for Atletico.

Valencia held

Valencia’s winless streak in the league reached five straight games after it was held by Real Sociedad to a 0-0 draw.

The result kept sixth-place Sociedad with only one win in its last nine league games. The Basque Country club was coming off a 4-0 home loss to Real Betis in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Valencia dropped to 11th place.